Sadly that is probably all true in all too many factories. And even in those that put safety as a priority - it only takes one stupid mistake. : (
Fortunately my present employer; a manufacturer making OEM parts in PA and with a plant in NC, we as a company and our parent company headquartered in the UK are all about safety perhaps to the point of it being overkill IMO sometimes, but then OTOH, not really a waste of time either. Of course we do it in part to maintain our ISO certification and to keep our workers comp claims down and thus our overhead costs and insurance rates down and our profitability up and also to reduce personal injury (STD and LTD) claims resulting from non-work related lost time accidents and health insurance claims.
Every newly hired employee including administrative (office) employees, outside sales reps, even our executives and also all our agency temps and contractors all of them without exception have to attend a full day of safety training within their first week of hire and everyone without exception has to attend at least one monthly safety training and we are actually increasing the number of hours per quarter of safety training required for all employees and tracking attendance. Our quarterly bonuses even depend in part on monthly safety training attendance/participation of no less than 97%. Less than 97% participation during any quarter means we dont get 50% of our quarterly bonus (the other 50% is based on quality /customer satisfaction / returns for defective products.) Our annual bonus is based on meeting operating profit goals but also has a tie in to the safety and quality indexes as well.
Those monthly safety trainings vary to the extent of what is covered but not necessarily the topic. For instance, while employees who work on the plant floor may be given more intensive training on lock out / tag out procedures or fork lift safety, HAZMAT training, how to read material safety data sheets (MSDS), emergency response and emergency first aid, etc., - all employees, even those not working on the plant floor get at least some training on those topics.
As an administrative person (I am the companys payroll and HRIS manager), for instance, a few months ago I had to take a forklift safety training; that training not being focused as for someone operating a forklift or working around them on a daily basis, but as a pedestrian as I and others do have to sometimes walk through the plant where forklifts operate I sometimes have to recalibrate or clean time clocks in manufacturing areas or go to meetings in offices of the plant managers and supervisors and walk through production areas to get there. We also get training on proper PPE even as I am not a manufacturing employee, when I walk through certain areas of the plant I have to wear safety glasses and or steel toed safety shoes (company issued and or paid for) and have to obey the posted signs that warn that certain areas are completely off limit to all personnel except those with authorized access.
Other recent monthly safety topics covered topics like severe weather events (tornado warnings for instance and where to shelter and we had one just this week), winter weather hazards, HAZMAT situations, fire evacuations, including a mandatory yearly hands on fire extinguisher training for all employees, ergonomics and proper lifting techniques, basic first aid with a focus on procedures what to do, who to call and even what not to do and other safety topics, not only for at work but also for safety at home - topics like the dangers of texting while driving, the proper use of ladders and step ladders, basic electrical safety, safe storage and handling of household chemicals, how to avoid heat stroke and what to do if someone has it, etc. Sometimes the safety training requires us to watch one of those cheesy Safety Videos - some of them very graphic or very dry and some of them even unintentionally funny because they are so cheesy. But some of them are very good and thought provoking.
One of the more light hearted but yet effective was what us office/admin folks got last December for our monthly safety training. The training involved watching selected clips from the movie National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and after watching, we were asked to list all the unsafe things we saw Clark Griwswald doing in the clips. While it was very funny, the training did make some good points on things like electrical and ladder safety, and how not to carve a turkey - LOL!
Our VP of Operations and our Plant Managers and supervisors sometimes purposely walk through the plant in areas that require the use of safety glasses and not wearing them to see if anyone calls them out on it, and anyone who does, they give them a $50 gift card and they get recognition on the companys safety bulletin boards. The same goes for any employee who identifies a safety hazard or a worker working in an unsafe manner.
And I got one of those gift cards and recognition a couple of months ago when I was walking through the plant on my way to a meeting and saw several areas of oil/grease on the walkway area near the loading dock left by some rigging contractors who were bringing in and installing some new equipment, probably grease leaking from one of their forklifts/hoists. I got several of those caution slippery floor tent signs from the nearest safety station and placed them over the greasy areas and called the Safety Manager to alert him to the condition, for him to get it properly cleaned up and I stayed there until he got there to take over to make sure people did not walk on, slip and fall on the grease. I also had to file on our safety database, a near miss report, detailing the hazard I identified and then the Safety Department commented on what steps needed to be put in place to prevent the same potential hazard from occurring in the future in this case - inspecting a contractors forklifts or other equipment for oil or grease leaks before allowing them into our plant the same sort of daily inspection we require for our own equipment : )
We also have a policy that any employee is allowed to identify a potential unsafe or hazardous condition, even to the point of shutting down a production line without any fear of retribution even if they end up being wrong about the hazard. Workers who violate safety instructions or fail to follow SOPs can be written up and can and will be terminated for repeated violations.
While we typically will work to re-train a worker who violates a safety or SOP, we did terminate someone in the last year who had been written up on several occasions for repeatedly not following SOPs and for violating safety procedures and suffered an injury as a result. That employee FWIW was also required to undergo a mandatory post accident drug and alcohol test and failed tested positive for both alcohol and marijuana. He was suspended without pay and sent to our EAP for counseling and weekly drug testing with the caveat that if he complied and stayed clean over the next 30 days, he would be reinstated but subject to monthly testing for the next year, but since he failed to comply didnt go to counseling and failed follow up testing, he was terminated and FWIW, when he filed an unemployment claim, PA upheld that it was a rightful termination for cause on our part and denied him unemployment benefits. And his workers comp claim was also denied because we proved he had violated SOPs.
And we are pretty strict with the lock out /tag out procedures to the point of that the tag has to have the photo ID of the person responsible for placing and removing it. I know this because they have to come to the HR office to get the photo ID printed out from our ID card system to be placed on the tag.
FWIW - earlier this year we had a long time employee (over 20 years), a maintenance mechanic turn in his notice as he had found a job with another manufacturer that was much closer to his home and IIRC for slightly more money. We hated to lose him as he was a very good and dependable worker and very well liked and we even made him a counter offer, but he declined because while we offered to match his offer in terms of hourly rate of pay, we couldnt give him the 1st shift hours and less time being on the on-call rotation and less mandatory OT and more flexibly in hours that he wanted.
But after working for his new employer for only three weeks, he quit, leaving without notice and called our plant manger asking if he could come back. He quit walked off that new job because of what he saw as a complete disregard for safety by the management and his fellow workers and very unsafe conditions including not using proper tag out / lock out procedures when working on high voltage equipment. He felt the conditions at that plant were so unsafe that it wasnt worth risking his injury or death no matter the pay and better hours and shorter commute. And not long after he left, that manufacture had a near fatal electrocution injury and Im sure OSHA and their Workers Comp insurance carrier is all over them like white on rice- something we try to avoid by doing everything we can to not have work place injuries or deaths in the first place.
Unfortunately we couldnt give him his old job back as it had already been filled but he was offered a job as a 3rd shift lathe operator at an hourly rate just slightly below what he had been making, but he took it and seems happy to be back. We reinstated him so as to let him keep his seniority based on his original hire date and therefore he doesnt have to wait a year before applying for another position in the company.