Create a culture of safety

By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
February 21, 2011 - MMH Editorial

You might have noticed that Modern has been running a series of Equipment Reports that get back to basics.  These articles are a 101 level look at materials handling equipment and technology.  As our executive editor Bob Trebilcock says, “This is the Joe Friday, Just-The-Facts-Ma’am style reporting.”

But sometimes, while reporting, I digress.  My friends (and editors!) will agree.  It’s unavoidable; it’s who I am.  This time, when reporting and writing about pallet rack basics, Behind the backbone, I went down the path of safety inside the four walls.  I talked with Steve Stephenson, a managing partner at Graphic Products in Portland, Oregon, who gave me some super simple suggestions on how to improve the safety situation inside a facility and be prepared for OSHA inspections. 

Modern:  Of course, every manufacturing facility, distribution center or warehouse is different, but there must be some suggestions that work across the materials handling industry.  Can you offer specific examples on how to create a culture of safety?

Stephenson:  Creating a safety culture at your facility requires management’s full support. Consider these activities:
• Invite safety product vendors to your workplace to demonstrate what’s new.
• Conduct standing weekly 15-minute safety suggestion meetings. To keep the energy level up, no one sits.
• Elect a safety captain to serve as a liaison between workers and managers. Encourage everyone to contribute to the company safety manual addressing their own areas and departments.
• Instead of dreading an OSHA inspection, invite your local OSHA area director to talk about critical areas of concern.

Modern:  Are there products and services are available to help a facility prepare for an OSHA inspection?

Stephenson:  There is software for safety plan writing, software to help you create customized safety inspection checklists and software to manage OSHA record keeping requirements including work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses.

Retain a consultant to implement overall accident reduction and cost-containment strategies, evaluate occupational injury and illness logs and conduct indoor air quality surveys. To get a good sense of the level of quality and deliverables that are expected, ask for references and interview three to five software providers and consultants. Go with your gut and your pocketbook.

Finally, the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education (DTE) develops, directs, oversees, manages and ensures implementation of OSHA’s national training and education policies and procedures. For more information about DTE, visit

These are excellent suggestions.  Hmmm.  If we can create a culture of safety in the workplace, can we create any culture anywhere?  How about a culture of courtesy on the roadways?  How about a culture of manners in movie theaters?

But, I digress.

Click here to read all of our Equipment Report 101 stories.

About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

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Article Topics

Blogs · OSHA · Safety · Rack · All topics

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].


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