As a GMP-compliant manufacturing facility, Caliper requires all employees to undergo annual safety training on subjects like hygiene protocols, hazardous materials and bloodborne pathogens. A safe work environment “is the right thing to do, it’s required by law, and it contributes to the success of our business,” notes our Safety Policy Manual.
But this year, our ever-creative Office Manager, LJ James, decided to make it all more fun.
LJ organized a company-wide “Safety Day” event that gathered our 70+ employees, from all our company divisions, to take all the annual safety courses together. And, rather than just the usual PowerPoint presentations and on-line tests, employees learned by doing, with prizes, multiple free-time breaks, and a celebration cake adding to the fun. All day long, rotating teams took turns at sessions covering everything from gowning up, gloving and masking properly for the production floor, to playing a card-matching game identifying safety pictograms—or using a bodily fluid clean-up kit to safely remove a “blood spill” (ketchup) on the floor.
Rather than just the usual presentations and on-line tests, employees learned by doing, with prizes, multiple free-time breaks, and a celebration cake adding to the fun.
Of course, it wasn’t just fun and games (even if it felt like it for us employees). “Having physical interactions really reinforces the training,“ LJ explains. “You’re going through all the steps of a process, not just watching a video about it. And, you have that muscle memory to go back to in a real-life situation.”
Even though the annual trainings are technically only required for employees who work on the production floor, Caliper’s (and LJ’s) approach has always been to make them company-wide. “I think safety processes are important for everyone to know,” she says. “Hazardous chemicals and bloodborne pathogens can turn up anywhere in the workplace, and if you don’t know the process for handling them safely, you could potentially harm yourself or others.”
Even though the annual trainings are technically only required for employees who work on the production floor, Caliper’s (and LJ’s) approach has always been to make them company-wide.
It’s also a great way to better understand the company, she adds. “Not everybody works on the production floor, but it’s so helpful for everyone to see what other people are experiencing on a daily basis, to better understand the workflow of how our products are made and what goes into them.”
And the hands-on approach to the training clearly paid off: This year’s event resulted in one of the highest training completion successes yet. Over 95% of employees completed their training that day, and passed the follow-up testing with flying colors. “It was a huge hit,” adds LJ. “I got nothing but positive feedback.”
LJ also believes the benefits went beyond mere testing scores. She saw the en-masse training as a welcome opportunity to bring people together again, in person—something the company hadn’t done since the COVID-19 Before Times. “There are so many cross-company benefits of just being together,” she said. “Over the past year and a half, we’ve been doing virtual meetings and mostly just staying in our little bubbles. Getting to have those interactions with other departments creates collaboration, and it helps us see things in different ways. Once you see a process you aren’t regularly exposed to, you might see something that changes how you think about your own processes.”
“There are so many cross-company benefits of just being together…getting to have those interactions with other departments creates collaboration, and it helps us see things in different ways.”
Toward that end, the teams were carefully selected so that each included people from different divisions. “I think it’s important to get to know your colleagues from all departments, and sometimes people need a little push to do that,” she explained.
Safety Day’s success has also led to a policy change: Going forward, all new employees will receive the full training—and every year, a company-wide Safety Day will give everyone a full refresher. “My goals are for people to have a great time, that they leave with a solid understanding of what they learned in the training, and that they know how important the training is,” says LJ. “Ultimately, they’re going to feel more connected to the company, and know that they’re a big part of its success.”
“Ultimately, [our employees] are going to feel more connected to the company, and know that they’re a big part of its success.”