Contributed by Dow Lab Safety Academy
If you ask top athletes what has been most influential to their success, most will probably mention a great coach. That’s because coaches teach, guide, encourage, and challenge players to meet important goals – both in the game and in players’ lives.
That same type of relationship improves safety in the lab. Safety requires a combination of education, common sense, and vigilance. Mentors can make that happen by sharing best practices with newcomers and helping them avoid incidents that can put everyone at risk. Here’s how you can be a great safety mentor.
1. Show them where it’s at. Provide newcomers with a tour of your building and lab. Show them the locations of essentials, such as the safety shower and eyewash, safety supplies, waste collection points, and emergency alarms. Review the map showing emergency exits as well as evacuation and shelter-in-place locations.
2. Go over the guidelines. Review important safety procedures with new lab coworkers, including hazard assessment tools, techniques, and procedures used by the work group; proper personal protective equipment; safety data sheets; chemical labeling; and even current ergonomic guidelines.
3. Always be available. Mentoring goes beyond making sure your mentees know about safety equipment and proper procedures in the lab. Become a one-stop source for answers, direction, and coaching. Explain that you expect and welcome questions – all types of questions. You would rather answer a question than have your new colleague take unnecessary risks. Ever.
Positive mentoring relationships benefit everyone in the lab. The end goal is successful and safe research and lab work. That’s definitely worth your time and effort.
For more on this topic, watch the Mentoring video in the Sustainable Safety Culture module at the Dow Lab Safety Academy. The Dow Lab Safety Academy is a free digital learning environment that seeks to enhance awareness of safety practices in research laboratories.