ISHN Featured Article:  The Hazard Hunt will never be the same

Editor for ISHN, Dave Johnson, talks about his experience attending COVE’s 2-day Foundations of Visual Literacy workshop and the impact it can have on improving safety efforts. 

“People only see what they are prepared to see.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’re having a short morning session with employees from maintenance. “Today I’m asking for your help in finding hazards and OSHA violations. Look around and jot down on the Hazard Hunt form any problems you see; anything you feel is a hazard. Seeing is so important to safety. Return the forms to me and we’ll go over your list.”

You don’t want your people fanning out across the floor, seeing only what they’re prepared to see. But have you trained them in seeing – how to really see?

I attended a two-day workshop recently where a class of safety professionals were asked this question. No hands went up.

“What are you going to do for an 18- to 23-year-old who yesterday worked at Wendy’s and today will be walking into a high-risk work environment?” asked Mike Deetsch. Mike is not a safety trainer, He’s the director of education and engagement for the Toledo Museum of Art, where this workshop was held.

A novel approach

What are ten safety pros doing listening to an art educator at a museum? Next door, a group of employees from a Thyssenkrupp plant are also getting an education in visual literacy. For two, full, fast-paced days attendees study photographs projected on a screen, draw their notion of what “safety” means, and spend a few hours in front of paintings and sculptures in the museum’s 366,732 square feet of gallery space, learning the difference between “looking” and “seeing” and the importance of communicating what you see.

“Each of our team members can improve their ability to recognize hazards and do something about risk reduction,” says Chuck Baumgartner, EHS Group Leader for NSG –Pilkington North America, Inc. in Rossford, Ohio. “The concepts of learning to see and the elements of art can be applied to our hazard recognition and incident investigation process.” Why was Chuck at the workshop? “I’m always interested in new and improved ways to grow our safety capability.”

This workshop on visual literacy is one of many organized by the Center for Visual Expertise – COVE – founded in 2018. Speakers are a mix of EHS professionals from industry, such as Doug Pontsler, former VP of operations, sustainability and EHS for Owens Corning, and art educators from the museum, such as Mike Deetsch.

Read the full article HERE.

Download PDF HERE.


Kristin Zinkl

As COVE’s Marketing Manager, Kristin manages the day to day marketing activities and long term marketing strategy for the company. She is also responsible for creating the marketing campaign strategy that delivers Visual Literacy concepts and ideas across all promotional channels. With a focus on marketing, Kristin has worked in the safety consulting space for the past 12 years. Her efforts have helped spread new ideas and thinking around safety best practices and workplace safety improvements. Follow Kristin on LinkedIn


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