Before joining Flexible Packaging magazine many moons ago, I worked in the railroad industry, both in the field and behind a desk. While I can draw many contrasts between that transportation-driven work and the manufacturing settings I see as an editor visiting flexible packaging converters and suppliers today, these diverging industries share one common thread: safety. Granted, my “office” is no longer at the head end of thousands of tons of moving equipment. But when I look at finished rolls coming off a rewinder or watch an employee prepare ink stations for the next job, I still take a moment to think about critical issues-pinch points or working safely with chemicals, for example-in addition to optimum productivity.

No thanks to back-to-back winter storms in February, I missed out on FPA’s Environmental Summit and Safety Conference and I missed out on learning more (and later spreading the word) about how converters can push for a secure, accident-free and efficient workplace. Even if I didn’t bring back any information from those meetings and workshops, now is a great opportunity to take a time out and talk safety in flexible packaging manufacturing operations. Kicking off these discussions either on the shop floor or even in the executive suite can be a challenge, but there are plenty of places to start.

1. Choose a popular safety topic. You already have an idea of some of the inherent hazards on your shop floor. Perhaps a pep talk on forklift safety or eye/ear protection is in order. But also take a few minutes to think of peripheral topics. Does everyone in your company know what to do in case of a tornado or fire? Where are the first aid kits in your building and does everyone know how to use them?

2. Market your meeting. Just as you advertise your company’s products or services, generate some noise about your upcoming safety meeting. Who is invited to the meeting? What do you intend to cover in this meeting? If your operation runs 24/7, how will overnight or weekend operators get this information?

3. Keep the meeting interactive. While you may have pamphlets or even a live demonstration planned for an upcoming safety meeting, keep your eyes and ears open, too. What workplace hazards are your employees seeing develop that you haven’t yet identified?

Sayre Kos, Editor-in-Chief, 847-740-6210