Our profession is one that has us facing a seemingly never ending stream of problems which affect human lives. Many of these are “fly swatter” issues that require fixing a broken component, clearing a work area, etc. These level one issues are necessary daily chores which require some time and effort, but not all that much. The real troubling issues are deeper and usually have a risk component which requires a solution way beyond the quick-fix mentality. Albert Einstein said, “If you had one hour to solve a problem. You should spend 55 minutes identifying what the real problem was and 5 minutes working on the solution.”
Most of our customers (both internal and external) start off on this problem discovery-to-solution journey by having their hourly, supervision and salaried personnel complete our safety perception survey. The resultant data from this in-depth diagnostic point to any number of specific safety culture issues that exist at every level of the organization. The data is utilized in our Six Levels of Safety model which has hourly and salaried employees doing deep dive analysis and problem solving within a Rapid Improvement Workshop (RIW). This RIW team focuses on the safety culture / problem issues that exist within the organization. We often find that many of these issues have been hidden in the background or tolerated for years, but have never benefitted from a solution approach that requires more intensity than what a fly swatter model can deliver.
These RIWs utilize a structured, consistent, creative problem solving approach that gets to the real root causes. The proposed solutions are passed through our Six Criteria of Safety Excellence model which helps deliver true value added safety accountabilities at all levels of the organization. This in depth safety culture diagnostic-to-solution approach has helped the 120,000+ Caterpillar employees in more than 400 manufacturing facilities across the globe continually reduce the company recordable injury rate (now at less than 0.70). In our safety culture; fly swatter solutions occur daily, as well as in-depth analysis-to-solution initiatives which help solve difficult safety process and culture issues. “Either-or” does not work in the long term; there is a need for both as we relentlessly pursue a zero incident process, which in turn, helps deliver excellent safety culture performance around the globe.