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New Safety Initiatives, "Finishing First with Safety"

Houston Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Gwendolyne Walter, Project Manager, gwen.walter@houstontx.gov

Problem Statement

In 2009, a safety audit conducted by the City of Houston identified a number of areas in which the Houston Public Library could make its environment safer, particularly for employees. The report commented, “The administration of the safety program is very fragmented and not very well communicated to the employees. Many of the employees do not know about the program or where to find information.” We heard this as a wake-up call to reinvigorate our safety program in 2010, focusing especially on our communications and employee participation.

Innovation

HPL established a Safety Committee, consisting of a cross-section of employees, along with HPL’s Human Resources Division and Planning & Facilities Division, which managed the effort. The Committee meets monthly and sets system-wide goals with performance measures. New initiatives include: (a) monthly safety reminder emails on specific topics with colorful graphics; (b) a facility safety checklist for managers to complete quarterly; (c) an intranet safety page with tips to share in staff meetings. Also, in July 2010, the Safety Committee launched a library safety competition, “Finishing First With Safety,” with a racecar theme, emphasizing speed is not a factor unless you arrive safely at your destination. The contest includes prizes for employees (certificates and gift cards) for either (a) reducing accidents, (b) reporting accidents quickly, or (c) demonstrating safety awareness. As part of this campaign, we added a running time clock to our intranet home page which indicates the time elapsed since HPL’s last accident. The time clock has proved to be a real attention-getter for staff, the subject of much discussion, and has since been emulated by other City departments.

Progress

The Houston Public Library has reduced employee accidents by 30 percent since the safety competition began. Front-line employees are more safety-conscious, as evidenced by their competitive efforts in the contest, their nominations for safety-conscious initiatives, and conversations witnessed in staff meetings and among co-workers. Facility safety improvements are completed more frequently and quickly, based on the number of work orders entered and filled. We believe HPL offers a safer environment to employees and the public, due to these initiatives.