One very common theme that is heard over and over throughout every industry regarding safety is, “Safety First”. Fostering a corporate culture of safety is important and must be exemplified from the top down and the bottom up to be successful. Having safety on the forefront of everyone’s mind heightens awareness, which leads to the concept of safety being first in every task that is performed.
Planning for Safety
Within a safety and process-driven company like SunPeak, safety means that every task, regardless of its owner, begins by identifying all of the consecutive steps in the task and then pinpointing any potential hazards associated with each of the steps. We call the hazards out one by one, even if the hazards repeat on multiple steps, and we review our assessment with other team members to ensure nothing was missed. This process of exposing potential risks in the planning phase allows us to effectively mitigate issues and create a safe work plan. This task-hazard-mitigation process is known as a Job or Task Hazard Analysis (JHA).
Understanding the hierarchy of controls helps immensely in the mitigation phase.
Utilizing the most effective technique of controlling the hazard is the preferred method.
JHA In Practice
Despite extensive installation experience and training, SunPeak crews continuously review and revise onsite JHA plans. Before work begins each morning on the jobsite, all SunPeak crew members complete a job safety analysis (JSA) form that includes the aforementioned JHA process. All tasks, hazards, and controlling methods are captured in writing, verbally discussed, and then the document is signed by all members of the team. If work or weather conditions change throughout the day, the job safety analysis form is amended and those changes are discussed. If the need arises due to complexity of a change or new task, then a separate or additional JSA is written capturing the new conditions and associated JHA information. If someone new comes into the work area, then a crew member must review the JSA with them. This alerts the individual to gain a comprehensive analysis of the conditions including the tasks, hazards, and mitigation(s) being conducted. The individual needs to become signatory to the information by signing the JSA before being allowed into the active work zone. This ensures every person involved is engaged, informed and aware – for the sake of personal, team, customer and public safety.
Stretch and Bend: Physical Preparation for Work
Before SunPeak crews get started each morning, in addition to the JSA, they participate in what we call Stretch and Bend. Akin to an athlete getting ready for a game, Stretch and Bend is a set of ergonomic movements that safely stretch and prepare the body for work. There are no calisthenics involved. We put the body through a full range of motion limbering up for the tasks ahead. In solar installation work there are repetitive tasks. To mitigate the ergonomic risks associated with these tasks, SunPeak crew members rotate job functions and utilize Stretch and Bend techniques throughout the day.
Promoting Safety Awareness, Collaboration and Communication
Anyone that has been involved with a quality management system (QMS) can tell you that it involves a system of continuous improvement. Whenever a SunPeak employee identifies an opportunity where improvement(s) can be made, we address it directly, with a team approach and a positive attitude. Roy Rogers once said, “We are all ignorant. We are just ignorant of different things.” Ignorance is dispelled by knowledge. Knowledge is gained through education and training. Building a strong diversified team allows for experiences from all sorts of different backgrounds. This brings perspectives to the table that drive our successful QMS. Share your knowledge and learn from those around you.
Communication is just as important. It has been said that communication may not be the secret to life, however, it is one of the keys to life. It sounds simple. It is nowhere near simple. One of the fundamentals of good communication is being able to actively listen. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you do twice as much listening as you do talking, you just might learn something. Learning leads to understanding. A solid understanding allows for engaging conversation. This level of communication is empowering.
Coming Full Circle: Why Safety Always Matters at SunPeak
It was SunPeak field team members - the very individuals on the front lines of these initiatives - who recognized for themselves and defined for the entire organization what safety means for SunPeak. As it was said in the field, “Safety isn’t just first, Safety is Always. Safety Always.” From that humble yet astute statement, Safety Always Matters (S.A.M.) at SunPeak was born. It is a proud moment when the safety culture of an organization takes a great leap forward, driven by the very individuals whom it is dependent.
Safety Always Matters is not some tag line for the latest safety program. It is front and center of our processes and our culture.