3 Easy Steps to Raise FOD Awareness Right Now!

The Golden BoltKeeping your employees on the lookout for foreign object debris or damage (FOD) can prove challenging in a busy work environment. Try these three proven methods to encourage awareness and a strong safety culture. While the examples focus on airport environments, you can easily apply the same principles to manufacturing facilities. 1. Provide clear goals and instructions. FOD control training sessions involve more than just instructing staff to “pick up after yourself.” Each job description creates its own unique potential for discovering – and creating – potentially dangerous debris. How roughly a Ramper handles cargo influences how many broken suitcase handles, torn ID tags, and ripped labels litter the ramp. The route and speed of a driver towing a runway sweeper influences how efficiently it sweeps. Likewise, the Ramper is in a perfect position to follow “clean as you go” procedures during loading operations. Ground vehicle drivers can be trained to visually scan the pavement during routine operations. Assess each job description, then create a short and specific list of instructions for that employee or team. 2. Bring senior management aboard. Employees pay attention when the C-suite pays attention. Your top executives must set an example by personally encouraging awareness and compliance. For example, in the US Air Force – which has the best FOD program in the world – oversight of an air base's program is normally performed by the Vice Wing Commander, who is a colonel or general and the unit's second-highest ranking officer. Typically, the VWC delegates day-to-day activities to a career sergeant with ground maintenance experience, relying upon his or her reports and recommendations when making command decisions. In a civilian facility, program oversight normally falls to the safety or operations manager or, in a small GA airport, the airport director. Regardless, a senior manager with supervisory authority must hold ultimate responsibility. 3. Hold a FOD contest. Most folks don't think of picking up garbage as fun, so let's make it fun. Challenge staff to create safety posters and distribute copies of the best designs. Lead a round of applause to the employee who brings in the heaviest trash bag during cleanup. A popular and productive contest is the Golden Bolt hunt. First, management colors a bolt with gold paint and hides it. Then, employees perform a “FOD Walk,” visually sweeping an area for FOD, collecting it as they go along. Whoever finds the Golden Bolt wins. During staff meetings, award prizes to employees who collect the most debris, design the best poster, or locate the hidden bolt. They need not be expensive and might include a dinner coupon, gift card, or framed certificate of achievement. You are not “buying” responsible behavior from your employees. You are recognizing their personal decision to actively support the safety of their company, co-workers, and customers. Looking for formal training materials? Visit FODProgram.com for a list of online courses that will teach your employees how to practice responsible FOD awareness and control.