We are happy to let Kajetan Mrzyglod, Supervisor External Transport at Smulders Projects in Hoboken, take the floor. Our Director QHSE Carla Wellens saw him address his team with passion during a safety awareness meeting. More so... saw him ‘connect’ to encourage safe working. He makes employees aware of their own contribution and gives meaningful practical examples to go with the theory. That’s enough for the introduction, here is Kajetan himself.
What does a safety culture mean for you?
“You are only as strong as the weakest link. We want to avoid lack of focus, inattention... incidents. That is why we need to engage our people with more interaction. Toolbox meetings are not always the perfect way because they are too informal in the workplace and it becomes just another routine. Listen, sign and back to work. We wanted to take a different approach to create more impact."
A safety gear up, you mean. How do you guys do that?
"We pull our people away from the yard and sit together in a conference room for about an hour and a half so they understand the urgency. With sweet rolls, but still. There is a presentation and they get a bundle to guide our group discussion. You have to start somewhere. The ultimate goal is for them to come up with their own themes regarding everyday safety and safety problems. On the basis of a logbook, this works out quite well. We give examples, they get to make suggestions, they ask questions and we answer them together. I see that listening works. Team members are heard and respected. This gives confidence."
What are the meetings about?
"Various topics from their production environment. The bundle also contains inspiring exercises, such as looking around a clean yard and finding mistakes on a picture. Furthermore, about abbreviations, procedures, human error, the safety culture ladder, self-awareness, supported with videos and pictures where possible. They learn that when an unsafe situation occurs, they have the right to stop the job. That talking to each other helps."
What did your breath of fresh air achieve so far?
"We have had 2 sessions and another one is planned. The team's input will be even greater, because we have asked 2 colleagues to contribute an idea. We feel that this approach works better now than when rules are simply imposed top-down. We speak in their own language where possible, within our group that is Polish. That too lowers the threshold. For us, these first meetings are about raising awareness and trust. First awareness, then we can proceed to actions with areas for improvement. We want more of that.
"Communication does not automatically mean dialogue and we need dialogue among all colleagues to learn from practical experience in the workplace. That dialogue is essential to improve our safety culture." - Mark De Bruyn