As part of the Safe Start Program, the Kloeckner Metals Chicago office has created a monthly newsletter called The Doggie Bag to really drive home the point. The newsletter features safety related stories from employees and reinforces safety lessons from the program. It is the brainchild of Mike Hoekstra and James Traut, who are also in charge of teaching the Safe Start Program in Chicago.
“When we were in our training down in Dallas, Mike Hoekstra and I, one of the things they want you to do to get awareness out there is to have a company newsletter or something like that,” James says. “On the plane ride back, I was trying to think of what to call it, and I thought The Doggie Bag was a good name because it is about taking safety home with you. It is about the workplace as well, but it is more about life in general.”
The response of employees has been great. People are lining up to share their personal stories for the monthly newsletter. It is a good way to get employees more involved, and by reading these stories it helps people remember their own not-so-safe moments.
“Having them read it and then relate to it, I think, is what helps, because you might not think of a story of a time when you were hurt, or when you were almost hurt and had a close call, but by reading someone else’s story it might jog your memory,” James says. “The point of the Doggie Bag is that we want people to always have safety at the forefront of their minds and to take it home with them.”
James thinks about his own three children, and how he has shared the safety lessons with them. Part of the Safe Start program is a series of DVDs, one of which is called the Boo-Boo Bandits.
“It is the corniest thing you are ever going to watch in your life, but I watch it once a week with my four-year-old,” James says.
As a result, his four-year-old alerts James and his wife whenever their two-year-old is doing something unsafe. Usually, it is just something the older child thinks the younger one shouldn’t be doing, like standing on the couch, but it is great to see the lessons taking hold.
“It works,” James says.
A big part of the Safe Start Program involves driving safety, which is something that James thinks should be always on people’s minds. People forget that driving is the most dangerous thing that most people do every day. Because it is something that is part of the daily routine, people tend to overlook the danger and become complacent. Complacency, in turn, leads to other errors. Even a person who is a safe driver needs to stay alert for others on the road.
“You can’t control someone else who is driving and texting, and they may swerve over and hit you or something like that,” James says. “All you can control is you not doing it, so you can react quickly enough.”
James enjoys creating The Doggie Bag issues, and really enjoys teaching people about safety. He is hoping to expand the newsletter to include two or three stories in each issue and is thinking about expanding it to include other branch news. The Safe Start Stories will always be the core of The Doggie Bag, though.
“I love Safe Start,” James says. “I love teaching the class. It has been received very well here in Chicago.”