• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

Safety in the Workplace

I would like to comment on the posting of Elon Musk’s e-mail regarding Safety at Tesla.

I think it is great that Elon Musk had an epiphany about Safety at the Tesla Plant. His response to an accident of going to the floor and performing the same job as the injured employee is very commendable. It is also commendable that he requires all of his managers to do the same. However, this is nothing new to the automobile industry. Henry Ford in his book, “Today and Tomorrow” said, “Managers should not remain in their offices but should get out and walk around.”

From the article, it seems like the Safety Program at Tesla if more responsive to an injury and less proactive in preventing injuries.

Is there a Safety Program at Tesla, and what is it?

Hiring more employees and creating a third shift to prevent fatigue from overtime is not a Safety Program. When I became an Operations Manager of three small plants in General Electric, it was made very clear to me that I was ultimately responsible for the safety of all employees in the three buildings. This was an enormous responsibility for a newly appointed manager.

Our Safety Program at that time consisted of monthly safety films shown by each supervisor on each shift and a yearly safety audit for each of the machines and production areas in the buildings. I soon discovered that the safety audits were cursory at best and not at all intensive. I took it upon myself to conduct all safety audits and was not happy if I could not identify at least twenty or thirty problems and or deficiencies. Upon the completion of each safety audit, the supervisor wrote work orders to get all the items repaired and the deficiencies corrected.

Safety was reinforced on a monthly basis by the showing of the safety films. The films highlighted the need to work safely and included such topics as proper ways of lifting objects, proper ways to use and store knives, proper ways operate certain machines, respect for safety and caution signs, and proper ways to identify safety problems and issues and what to do if they came upon an unsafe condition or situation.

Accidents and injuries are caused by unsafe conditions and/or unsafe acts of people.

Water on the floor would be an unsafe condition as people may slip and fall if they step in the water. An operator who does not follow a procedure or takes a shortcut in performing their work would constitute an unsafe act.

The showing of safety films addressed the unsafe practices and acts. The safety audits addressed the unsafe conditions.

Du Pont STOP Safety program

However, this approach to safety was still not enough. We soon learned that approximately 80% of accidents in the workplace are caused by unsafe acts of the workers. We became aware of the DuPont STOP program. This program focuses on the behavior of the workers. In short, it requires each manager to stop and observe what is going on when they enter a work area. When an unsafe act is observed it is noted on a STOP card and discussed with the employee.

Typically, we see workers turn their back on the person entering the work area and put on or adjust their safety glasses. A worker that turns their back on someone entering the work area is a sure giveaway that something unsafe was occurring. The DuPont STOP program was a very effective way of stopping unsafe acts, reinforcing the need for safety and providing an opportunity to train workers in the proper way of performing their work.

The DuPont STOP program would make for a valuable addition to any Safety Program.

See the attached DuPont Stop Safety brochure for more information


Read: 7 Common Causes of Workplace Accidents

#workplacesaftey #DuPontSTOP #Tesla