In English we use the alphabet, and in Japanese we use characters called “kanji.” Each kanji has its own meaning. The meaning of the characters “AN” and “ZEN” are “peaceful” (AN) and “nothing lacking” (ZEN). In other words, the word “AN-ZEN” means “there is no risk.”
When undertaking safety measures, the most important thing is to recognize what kind of risks there are. It is necessary to prioritize the risks and eliminate the ones with the highest risks first. There is a procedure for us to report “near misses” to the safety manager. This is a good means for us to look for hidden risks in our daily tasks, so let’s all be sure to pro-actively report these near misses.
I’d like to introduce an example of a safety measure from Japan. In Japan, the “Pointing and Calling” method is often used for safety confirmation. This is a procedure in which you point to each checkpoint one by one with your finger and check it verbally. For example, suppose you are going to work with chemicals. Before starting work, during the preparation stage, you would place your finger on the safety glasses which you are wearing and say out loud, “Safety glasses OK.” You would follow this by pointing to your safety gloves and saying, “Safety gloves OK,” and so on, starting work only after you have confirmed everything verbally. After finishing your work, when you close the lid of the chemical, you would say out loud, “Cap closing OK.”
Train drivers and conductors in Japan first adopted this safety procedure over one hundred years ago, when there were many train accidents. This system has since been adopted throughout Japan’s railway industry. You can watch a video of this method here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpkrIu2p_iM
This mechanism can be used not only for safety but also to reduce quality mistakes. It helps to prevent mistakes in daily life and forgetfulness. Please try it at work and at home.
Safety is not just for you. It is also important for your family. Let’s work every day with a “Safety First” mentality.
Senior Vice President / General Manager—
YKK (U.S.A.) Inc.