An Open Letter To CEOs & Their Management Teams About Safety Excellence

Open LetterHere are the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually DO! Make 2016 the year your company achieves Safety Excellence…here’s how you do it:

1) Make safety look more like your business and less like a “program.”
Safely is HOW we do our work. It’s NOT a program, it’s not a special set of activities any more than efficiency is a program. Challenge the people that work in your organization to create safe, efficient and effective production of your goods and services. Then resource their efforts.

2) You’re paid to get results, not prevent things.
STOP preventing accidents and start creating safety (See Resolution #1)! You’re in the business of adding value to your stakeholders and shareholders. You’re not in the C Suite to Prevent Loss!

3) Zero isn’t a valid Safety Goal – It’s not about safety at all!
Not sure how or when it happened but this ZERO chant has to stop. A company can have ZERO injuries and do absolutely nothing. There’s a problem with celebrating a goal that can happen just by chance! Set SAFETY goals (doing things that create safety) and lose the non-injury goals. The people who work for your company can be working in very unsafe ways. If they don’t get caught by an injury they may believe that you still want them to work that way.

Don’t ask about injuries that didn’t happen, ask questions about what your corporation is doing to create Safety. Measure those things and you’ll get better at safety.

4) The few can’t control the many.
The idea that supervisors are in control of safety and can do all of the safety work is insane. Engage your workers in creating safe work. Give them the time and resources to become your safety leaders!

5) What you show interest in is what is important.
Show your sincere interest in how your company is working safely. Get out of your office and ask a lot of questions about safety. Every time you ask about efficiency and effectiveness, add the work “SAFELY.” For example: “How long is it going to take to SAFELY complete that portion of the project?” Another example is “How much will it cost for us to SAFELY get that part of the project done?” Adding the word SAFELY to your assignments is powerful. Then as a follow-up, when they tell you it’s done…ask them how they ensured it was done safely?

6) Think about START, STOP, CONTINUE.
Want a goal better than Zero Injuries? Ask your people to create activities around STOP, START, CONTINUE. Ask them what they are going to STOP doing to make their work safer. What can they START doing that they are not now doing that could make their work safer? Finally have them identify what they are doing now that is making their work safe and how are they ensuring that they are doing work that way every time they do it.

7) Lead don’t follow.
Leaders inspire. If you want your corporation to be safety excellent you need to create that challenge, resource the efforts and measure A LOT. Giving everyone (including yourselves) safety activities to do and make those responsibilities nested in job descriptions and performance evaluations will do much more than ZERO injuries chants (See Resolution #3).

8) Create Safety Excellence WITH your employees and contractors.
As a management team you need to get out of your offices and sit with your people and ask them what YOU can do to help them create safety in their work. Train them (and attend the training yourselves) how to create safety. Show them your interest by your actions… words are cheap…actions show REAL commitment!

9) STOP just being “Committed to Safety” and actually DO SOMETHING.
See Resolution #8. Make a commitment as a management team to do a list of activities in the coming year that demonstrates that your team has “skin in the game” of creating safety excellence. Then tell your Board of Directors that you have made completion of those activities part of your “at risk pay” performance evaluation. If you don’t do the work you don’t get the bonus!
10) Trust your Supervisors & Employees to be Safety Leaders.
This is the most important of all. Your people are more than capable to create safety excellence in their work. You trust that they will give your production of goods and service… make it a condition of your measurement of GREAT outcomes that they demonstrate that they are doing that work safely. Lack of injury does NOT do that. Actually working safely is the only measure of safety excellence.
I hope this has helped you focus on what you and your senior management team can do to create safety excellence in your corporation. Don’t hesitate, do it now! Your corporation will be much safer than it is now if you do!

 

For more information on Safety Leadership read “The Emperor Has no Hard Hat: Achieving REAL Workplace Safety Results”. WINNER, Honorable Mention, Globe and Mail’s Best Business Books of 2006.

Avoid Seeking the Impossible

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There seems to be a theme lately in the Safety World – Humans intellectually looking for impossibly high reliability where there is none. Seeking perfection where none exists. Seeking Anti-fragile (I really don’t like that artificially created non-word) in a fragile reality. Looking for predictable outcomes in a random world.
We can only know what we know. Until of course we create perfect “future vision” and/or ”time travel” the unexpected is to be expected. We can only do what we can with what we have. Wishing and hoping for insight we can’t possibly have (expecting perfect Risk Assessment and Management for example). It is certainly interesting and increasingly frustrating to watch the safety community spin.
I prefer to focus on excellence with expected and predictable occasional failures. Reality is real! :O)

It’s not like listening to athletes who have just won something and explain that they gave 110%. Of course it’s not at all like believing in Santa!

Merry Christmas To ALL

Saying What Is REALLY Important Matters Part 2

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What Does Counting Injuries as a Measure of Our Safety Process do to Our Risk Communication?

In Part 1, I outlined why I think counting injuries as some measure of safety is not only illogical, it does a great deal of damage. Leading the people you work with to think that as long as they don’t get hurt it must be OK. Imagine the trades person who just finished a job and took terrible risks (perhaps not locking out) and then his/her boss tells then they have done a GREAT JOB. At the end of the month we add insult to injury by celebrating an “injury free” month and hand out safety trinkets and repeatedly tell everyone (including your clients) “we had another SAFE month…keep up the good work!”
So let’s stop this madness and actually measure SAFETY. I propose that safety is doing what we need to do without taking unnecessary risks. We look at a job that is to be done and we evaluate the risks we face. We come up with a way to do the job that is the most safely productive way to do it without taking unreasonable and unnecessary risks. In the example above, working with electricity without locking out is terribly risky. It’s unnecessary to work without the protection of locking out the energy (at least in most cases except for highly trained and protected trades people who work with live electrical lines). So the challenge becomes deciding what needs to be done to manage the identified risk and taking those steps each and every time we’re going to do that job. If there are roadblocks to the chosen safe behaviours then we need to jointly devise ways to ensure the safe way becomes the natural way to do the job. Now we have some real things to measure that are creating safe production. Counting, measuring the creation of safety through our defined activities give us some real evidence-based data to work with. Now when we congratulate the people we work with on a good job…we can actually mean it!
So using the example above we can certainly measure if lock out processes are in place, we can also measure if the hardware is available. Then we can start to measure the compliance level and effectiveness of the process. Now when we see positive actions and evidence we truly have something to celebrate. If we find short comings we have something positive to work on and celebrate when we’ve accomplished our goals of creating safety. We’ll know without a doubt that we created the situation of ensuring we’ve locked out. Best of all we did it with our employees!

So there you have it Just some practical thoughts on what we can do to create and measure safety…give it a try. It’s a lot better than counting what didn’t happen and assuming we created the non-event. See how silly that sounds?