Do you have a “Safety Dojo”?

SafetyCircle Uncategorised

Recently I came across a simple work health and safety training concept so well delivered that I felt foolish I’d never heard or thought of it before.

I was traveling in Japan studying Toyota, it’s suppliers and other companies employing Lean Production approaches; more about that in future articles. My first insight was how fully engaged and in “flow” the workforce appeared to be. They were trained and developed to not just “do your job”; but “improve your job, every day”. We heard from many work groups about their collaborative problem solving methods, efforts and successes.

Two of the guided walk-throughs we did took us to a Safety Dojo. (For the uninitiated in martial arts, a “Dojo” is a place to be taught and practice the skills of a discipline – such as Karate or Aikido)

Basically a safety dojo is an experiential WHS training area where new employees and re-inducting employees are taken through the key risks inherent at that workplace. First they put on all the right PPE gear for their job and check themselves in a big mirror. Then they walk through a “safety arch” doorway that says something like “work safely in here” or it could easily be “Home Safe and Well Today”. Before going through it they announce “ready for work” or something like that. Immediately they are taught “how to walk here” – that sounds so basic – yet knowing that slips, trips and falls comprise over 20% of most workplaces injuries means that it’s important to bring greater consciousness to moving about the work areas. (See the sign below) The sign and instruction laid out rules such as: no hands in pockets; not walking while phone talking or texting; always use the hand rail and stop at forklift/vehicle cross walks are then instilled at the beginning. Or at least made clear. The first thing inside the safety arch that we encountered was a walkway and stair cross-over with slippery and uneven surfaces; so you physically feel unsafe unless you use the handrail: experiential learning, simple but memorable.

Then we come to an encased machine pinch point demonstration with a stuffed glove on a stick being crushed by a press. Then switch on the light curtain and see how the press stops when the hand goes across the light line.  Lesson: check the light curtain is operating and kept in good condition so it can save you from awful injury.

Next we move onto puncture wounds, eye protection, then the ways that electric shock and fires can happen if we overload power boards or touch faulty wiring. How to use an AED. What to do when you find a process fault (stop, pull the andon cord and stand by until your supervisor arrives). How to handle loads up to mid height and high shelves. And so on.

Within 3 hours the participants (just 5 at a time) have covered many many known WHS risk issues as well as encountered the controls or instructions to prevent harm.

Lastly the participants make a pledge to follow all the rules and instructions to keep themselves and their work mates healthy and safe.

Such a sensible approach. It’s a concept that appears can be simply translated into western workplaces very well. Other than seeing single setups for interlocks in industry training centres or height safety in specialised training centres, I have no idea why I haven’t heard of it or seen it in all my years of WHS education…please make comments to educate me/us if we’ve missed this boat.