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Pay attention to what workers are doing right
Don't forget the power of a compliment
A driver stops his truck, pulls the key out of the ignition, steps out of the vehicle holding onto the handrail, uses a load stand to get closer to the top of the trailer, selects a package, and closes the door. If a UPS driver does all of this using safe practices, he or she is going to hear about it.
The Atlanta, GA-based company credits careful observation and positive feedback for its 33% reduction in auto accidents and 40% drop in injuries since 2006, according to Steve Vaughn, UPS' Comprehensive Health and Safety Process (CHSP) manager.
"A lot of times, it's easier to tell someone they did something wrong. We want to recognize you for doing it right," he says.
Members of the CHSP committees observe their fellow drivers, looking for safe driving and safe work practices. This is done routinely for 30 minutes to an hour, he explains, occasionally due to a particular trend identified, such as more accidents occurring at a certain time of the week.
"Maybe you are observed for 15 stops, and every time you used the handrail getting out of the vehicle," says Vaughn. "We will tell that driver, 'You did a great job of using the handrail.' We talk about the positive observations that we saw."
For every one time you critique someone for doing something, you should be giving 20 times as many compliments. "We did well over 100 million observations in 2010," he says. "Positive recognition goes a long way."
If a driver is recognized for doing something correctly, other drivers will want the same recognition, he adds.
On the other hand, if the observer notices that the driver does the wrong thing more often than the right thing -- such as using a lift stand only once or twice out of 15 stops -- the observer points it out. Here are some other steps that UPS has taken to reduce musculoskeletal injuries:
Steps are taken if at-risk behaviors are noted.
If observers notice an employee failing to use the load stand, they explain why this could result in an injury, and how that injury would affect their lives, says Vaughn. The committee analyzes results of the observations each month. If trends in at-risk behaviors are noted, such as failing to use load stands, the committee gets together to determine what needs to be done about it, he says.
"Members will talk to loaders to find out why they are not using them," he says. "It may be that supervisors didn't make them available."
The committee concentrates on the same behaviors for an entire year.
"If we are 42% safe one month, we want to get to 46% safe the next month, then 80% and 90%," says Vaughn. "We concentrate on no more than six behaviors at a time. We want to eliminate all injuries, but we focus on the most frequent and most severe."
Six behaviors are linked to each of those injuries, and that is what committee members look at during their observations. "It may be that an accident occurred because a driver failed to clear an intersection looking left, right, left," he says.
When a particular driver group was getting a lot of knee injuries, occupational health supervisors put together a wellness education week on how to avoid these, says Janice Hartgens, UPS's corporate occupational health manager.
"Drivers were reminded about the importance of pivoting, not twisting, and what happens to their bodies if they don't use three points of contact when exiting the vehicle to relieve pressure on the knee," she says.
For more information on promoting employee health and safety, contact:
Janice Hartgens, Corporate Occupational Health Manager, UPS, Atlanta, GA. E-mail: email@example.com.
Steve Vaughn, Manager, Comprehensive Health and Safety Process, UPS, Atlanta, GA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.