C.A.R.E.S.: Safety Topics - February 2019 - Week 2



One of the tools in the SafetyFirst behavioral based safety (BBS) program is an acronym known as C.A.R.E.S. This module addresses the mental preparedness and engagement of safety consciousness.  By practicing these 5 Habits of Excellence daily, unsafe behaviors can be dramatically reduced. C.A.R.E.S. prepares us for a safe work day through reminders of how to keep our minds on task and to develop personal awareness tools. 

C.A.R.E.S. stands for:

  • Control Emotions
  • Anticipate
  • Responsible
  • Engage
  • Safe Pace

We’ll talk about each of the letters in C.A.R.E.S. this week, one per day.

Monday, February 11

Control Emotions

One of the most powerful driving forces behind our behavior is emotion.  How often have you witnessed a person acting out of character or irrationally when they’re experiencing intense emotion, such as anger?   On the opposite side of the spectrum, have you ever seen a person acting completely silly or even childish when they’re overjoyed with happiness?  As part of the C.A.R.E.S. approach, we seek to control our emotions while working.  The emotions don’t necessarily have to be extreme either. Perhaps an employee received a call from a teacher that their child was acting up in class, and the employee is irritated.

When practicing C.A.R.E.S. it’s acceptable to encourage your fellow employees to deal with emotions.  If an employee needs to take a short break to review how they’re feeling and develop ways to deal with their emotions, then that should be acceptable for an organization.  The HR department or supervisors should have an open door policy where employees can come in and vent if they need to. 

It’s most often a good practice to speak calmly with someone if they upset you.  Avoid placing blame or criticism but talk about how a person’s actions make you feel.  The most important part of this step is to be aware of your emotion and how it can lead to distraction while performing work.  Each person and emotion is different so be open to differing individual needs and be willing to lend an empathetic ear when needed.

What emotion are you dealing with today?   

Tuesday, February 12


With regards to anticipation, there are two approaches. The first way to anticipate is to think about your workday before it begins.  For example, is the day going to be really busy because it’s near the end of the month?  Maybe you’re aware of a new hire starting that day in your department, and setting a good example will be a strong precedent, particularly if you’re assisting with training.  What if the day is one in which you know you have a deadline to meet and you’re either on track or behind schedule?  Any pre-existing conditions should be mentally reviewed prior to the workday so you can prepare yourself to meet the scenario head on.  This can help to reduce frustration in having to adapt or react to the work day’s deliverables, reduce variables, and can help keep emotions under control.  One way to accomplish this for your team is to have daily or periodic staff meetings in which upcoming situations can be communicated.

The second way to anticipate is to evaluate each and every task you do mentally.  Ask yourself if there are any potential hazards with that task, and if something were to go wrong, what would the consequence be? If the consequence is an injury, that task deserves some extra attention either through developing proactive measures or conscious awareness for preventative behavior.  Hazards are out there waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the unsuspecting or unaware.  Anticipation is a great way to stay ahead of the game.

What can you anticipate today?

Wednesday, February 13


No one can keep you safe but you.  All the training in the world doesn’t matter unless you learn, pay attention, and apply your knowledge.  Machine guarding doesn’t matter unless it is used correctly and no amount of PPE can protect you unless you take the time to wear it properly.  You are responsible for your actions.

While a supervisor, manager, or safety specialist cannot keep you safe, they can be responsible to look out for their employees and colleagues. A truly safe work environment is not created by the efforts of the few, but from the many.  EnPro encourages that employees look out for each other regardless of rank or position. For example, if a supervisor is new to the company or new to a specific work area in the plant, make sure to remind the supervisor to wear proper PPE or be careful when walking near a machine. Supervisors actually have a higher per capita injury rate than frontline employees because they are not familiar with work areas, procedures and PPE. In turn, supervisors and managers should be open to reminders from employees, and even thankful to have employees who are dedicated to safety enough to feel responsible for all people they contact.  Like new supervisors, contractors, delivery truck drivers, executives and other visitors are not familiar with your safety procedures and should be educated and warned about safety issues.

Taking responsibility is an important piece of genuine safety culture; not only taking responsibility for your own actions, but also for warning others about their own risky behaviors. The ‘secret sauce’ for an effective safety culture is when everyone feels empowered to reinforce the values, rules, and practices that help keep us safe.  It’s everyone’s job to remain diligent and protect their coworkers and visitors.  At the same time, those who have been reminded by a responsible person about a safety protocol should not get mad or offended that someone is reminding them about a safety rule, but rather be appreciative that someone CARES enough to say something. 

Who is your direct responsibility today?

Thursday, February 14

Most of what we’ve reviewed so far can be summed up as tools that help us remain engaged with our safety consciousness.  However, Engage, in terms of the C.A.R.E.S. approach, reminds us to minimize ‘distracted working’.  Staying engaged at work takes a conscious effort to not allow distractions to take our focus away from performing a job safely.  There are many things that can compete for our attention during the day and cause us to worry.  Worry is highly attributed to emotional stress but perhaps one of the easiest to understand.  Worry is psychological energy spent for something that hasn’t happened yet or may not happen at all.  It’s important to understand that worrying does not serve a positive purpose.   Distractions to our work can be relentless and come from any number of sources.  Personal management of those distractions is a skill set that has to be developed. 

Here are some tips to help limit distractions:

  • Don’t work hungry.  Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and snacks throughout the day if necessary to keep your mind off your stomach.
  • Make sure your work station is comfortable and ergonomic – aches and pains can lead to distraction.
  • Make a list of small obtainable goals and work with that if it helps keep you on track.
  • Get enough sleep! Being tired can create lapses in judgement.
  • Practice mindfulness and staying in the present. Don’t bring anything extra to work with regards to what occupies your thoughts.
  • Ensure PPE is comfortable and not cumbersome.
  • Adhere to a strong cell phone policy that limits cell phone use to breaks and lunch periods.

What is preventing you from being fully engaged today?

Friday, February 15

Safe Pace

During incident investigations, how many times do you suppose that ‘being in a rush’ is a contributing factor in an incident?  Safe Pace refers to staying within the confines of your ability to continually assess the task for hazards, utilize controls, and execute the task without incident.  Too often we get caught up in the pressure of deadlines, customer demands, and even the ticking of the clock towards the end of the workday.  However, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our employees.  Safe Pace is not a particular target but rather dependent on the employee’s experience, ability, and confidence associated with the task. 

Do you have a skill matrix deployed at your location?  This is a way that an organization can document the level of training, experience, and competency for regular tasks.  This is a good tool to have in the event of an investigation and provides a reference point that helps managers and supervisors decide who to assign tasks to.

Additionally, keeping the lines of communication open between management and employees is important to discuss the work load. This is the safest strategy to complete the work without getting in a rush.  There are well documented studies that suggest that pre-shift discussions around safety have positive benefits for the workplace.  It can be a challenge to meet our business expectations without having some kind of pressure, but learning how to manage that pressure to a degree that emphasizes safe performance is the key. The most important thing a growing organization can do is to increase production through continuous improvement initiatives that can enhance output - without having to speed up the employees’ work pace.  Practice self-awareness how fast you can safely work. Think about how to communicate with each other about ways to work safer, not harder.

What is keeping you from working at a safe pace?

Tags: safety topics , behavior based safety , BBS ,

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