Safety Awakening – “Everyone Is Perfect”

October 10, 2014 No Comments

“Everyone Is Perfect”

A few years ago I was in a meeting with a senior OSHA official.   He had visited the company where I was the EHS Director at to investigate a fatality.

  • The investigator asked me if I’d ever given safety training to the deceased employee – I said “Yes”.
  • The investigator asked me if the employee was trained on the safe operation of the machine she was using at the time of the fatal accident – I said “Yes”.
  • Then the investigator asked me if the deceased employee had completed a safety quiz at the end of this training –  again I said “Yes”.
  • Finally, the investigator asked me the toughest question of all,  “What score did the deceased employee have on this important safety quiz?”  Without hesitation I said “She scored a perfect score, 100% correct on the safety quiz!”

Many years before the above OSHA investigation I did a lot of safety consulting with public school districts.  At one district was a wise old industrial arts (aka “shop”, or “tech ed”) teacher.   I asked him about the safety training that he gave his students before allowing them to operate dangerous woodworking saws.   The teacher told me that he gave a quiz at the end of the woodworking saw safety training and that every student who took the safety quiz achieved a perfect score!  I commented that he must be a terrific teacher.  He said no, he wasn’t a terrific teacher, but he had developed a procedure that insured each student would achieve a perfect score.

After each safety quiz, the class would review the correct answers to each question. Each student would correct his own quiz.  Any answer that the student got wrong, the student would change the incorrect answer to the correct answer.   The teacher said that he did that because if a student were to cut off his fingers, he didn’t want the lawyers to find that the one question the student got wrong was the one that might have prevented the injury.  After all, the point of a safety quiz is to insure that everyone learns all of the safety information, not to determine who’s the best test taker.

For decades, anyone who completed one of my safety quizzes has gotten a score of 100% correct.  Here’s how I do it…  After the quiz, we review the correct answers. If an employee gets an answer wrong, he immediately corrects it in his own handwriting.  If the employee does not understand the correct answer (or disagrees with it) we discuss it until the employee agrees 100% with the correct answer.  Finally, I save all of my safety quizzes “forever”.

Needless to say, the OSHA investigator I talked about in the first paragraph was very impressed when I showed him the employees’ safety quiz with a perfect score on it!



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