Monday, June 29, 2015

Einstein – Solving difficult safety problems


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.
The Doc

Monday, June 22, 2015

Safety Cop – Improving safety culture and performance


As I work with organizations worldwide, a common complaint is that the safety resources frequently act more like safety cops than like safety developers / engineers.  In other words, they go out into the workplace looking only for what is wrong.  When they find a victim who is violating some safety rule the safety resource swoops in, stops the operation, writes up the infraction and then disappears from the scene seemingly happy to have punished another “criminal safety perpetrator.”  Is this the real purpose / value for safety resources?  We all surely hope not.  But how can we change and improve the safety cop model which has existed for decades? 
In search of an answer, I referenced the cultural policing behind quality control and food safety; two areas in which I have first-hand experience. 
The quality control model started very similarly to that of safety control; quality defects were ruining production and cost performance.  People (quality inspectors) were trained in what the common defects were and then went out into the field to find these issues, stop production once they were found, write up a Corrective Action Request, then go back to the office and wait for production personnel to fix the issue.  It quickly became apparent this approach did not really solve the quality issues.  The International Organization for Standardization developed quality standards and then trained quality resources / officers how to both audit quality and participate in developing solutions.  Their consistent approach deals with lead auditors interviewing front-line employees to find out their knowledge about quality standards and how they are trained.  The next step is inspectors determining how employees and their leadership are engaged in continuous quality improvement activities which help error-proof flawed upstream processes that are delivering downstream defects / errors.  A company’s “quality police” (inspectors) are then expected to participate in continuous improvement team activities which both detect and resolve the quality issues.  A ‘find it’ mentality is not good enough.  The inspection resource must also participate in the ‘fix it’ activities so another ‘found it’ traffic ticket will not have to be written.
In food safety an independent third party auditor is hired to provide an independent evaluation and verification of food safety in the manufacturing facilities.  Additionally, government field inspectors are tasked with independent evaluation and policing of food safety standards in the marketplace.  The non-governmental third party auditor has responsibility for evaluating manufacturing food related safety and food related sanitation.  Additionally, this auditor must perform food related training of front line personnel – supervision – management in doing what it takes to eliminate critical food related errors which can lead to personal injury and death once their products reach the marketplace.
The point of this discussion?  In order for our safety resource to be really effective in eliminating injuries from occurring they must not only write tickets but also:
·         Be an expert in training how to do safety correctly

·         Use their expertise while actively participating in root cause solutions which deliver engineering and accountability fixes
Just like in quality and food safety our safety resources / inspectors must be an active part of a zero incident culture that does what it takes to prevent each and every occurrence from ever happening again! 

The Doc 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Excellence in Safety – The Caterpillar Journey

Caterpillar is a large global company and has made safety its most important responsibility. As Caterpillar’s Chairman said, “Safety is the very first thing we’re going to worry about.  Your health and well being come first – period.  None of the other goals matter if, in the process of achieving them, people are injured.” 
Caterpillar employs some 130,000 people in more than 400 facilities around the world. This global footprint is spread across more than 180 countries and includes countless cultures. In 2003, the Caterpillar global Recordable Injury Frequency (RIF) was 6.22; way too high for the leadership values and so the board of directors set the year 2020 RIF goal at 0.6.  A strong push with level one (reacting to regulation condition type of issues) and level two (reacting to observable weaknesses) tools was launched worldwide.  This effort brought the RIF down to 1.17 by 2009 and then to 1.02 in 2012.  As a result of this strategy, there has been a global reduction of more than 58,000 recordable injuries from 2003 to 2014.  However, the RIF plateau (2009 – 2012) at about 1.0 was particularly frustrating to corporate and local leadership, especially considering the next step down to a RIF of 0.6 represents another approximately 4,000 avoidable serious injuries.
In 2010 the decision was made to begin an in-depth safety culture strategy which would go beyond using RIF (and its related, dated tools approach) as the predominant safety indicator.  The objective for this initiative is to transform the organization from one that measures undesirable injuries to one that relentlessly pursues a safety culture which lives the presence of safety.  This sea change focus moved to what cannot be visibly seen; safety culture.  The 2010 strategic shift had Caterpillar purchasing CoreMedia, a globally recognized safety culture company, then carefully testing and integrating its safety culture models and methods at facility and dealer locations.  As a result the RIF plateau has experienced a break through; for the first three months of 2015 our continually improving RIF is now at 0.64.  As you visit our Caterpillar web site safety.cat.com you can find details of this journey to date and share in the learnings from Caterpillar’s strategy for moving from a reactive to a proactive safety culture worldwide.  Additionally, you can also gain a personal understanding of where safety accountability fits within cultural improvement. 
The Doc

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vigilance – Getting to Safety Excellence

A part of our profession is the desire for safety excellence on and off-the-job.  Are we ever good enough?  In times past, a good organization would measure their performance in millions of work hour segments without a lost time injury, also known as lost time incident rate. I think we have all experienced the green sign at the worksite or office site that tracks days since the last lost time injury.  Times have changed to where the best of the best don’t even track severity numbers, but rather watch a downstream indicator like medical rate.  Whereas the worst of the worst can’t seem to get into this era of lesser severity rate indicators or even think of the next step that is upon us right now; leading indicator excellence.  What are members across our organization doing proactively to eliminate the possibility of injury and how does our indicator dashboard track these responsibilities, efforts and accountabilities?
This ever improving scenario brings to mind something my Papa once told me, “Son, watch where you are going, but remember where you have been.”  Each of us has some memories to be proud of and others we wish we had never been so wrong to have tried.  As you look to the future to improve your organization’s safety culture, as well as your personal / family safety, consider the following:  you will move along a progression line that takes you from thought to action, which makes a positive difference to vigilance that delivers sustainability of excellence.  As you are on this journey from action to vigilance, take into account the positive and negative learnings from where you have been.  And stay in the game of improvement no matter which metrics you use.  In the grand scheme of things, status quo complacency only leads to getting worse.
The Doc 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Professor – Effective teaching

One of the many important roles of the safety pro is teaching.  Not surprisingly, this is also an important role for a parent raising their children to be the best they can be.  On- or off-the-job teaching is not an easy duty for those of us who were not professionally trained as teachers.  However, there is a real need to effectively take on the job and family member associates from initial exposure, to knowledge, all the way through to skillful, consistent practice.  This is an important skill for all of us to master, or at least perform well.  At the front line of an organization or family, how we lead in educating our students and follow up on their development is a critical success factor in what we do and consequently in how they perform safely and correctly.  In this teaching role, each of us develops and delivers a personal style that usually needs some tune up work to be truly effective.

There is an “old saw” that goes something like: A lecture is the fastest means known for getting notes from the teacher into the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.  To confront this unfortunate paradigm, we must take responsibility for training our front line personnel and front line leadership and family.   That training needs to impart to them the importance of being personally committed to an incident free lifestyle and to living a personal culture of correct in all they do.  In order to go beyond ineffective lecturing, there are some basic proven principles which we need to apply and demonstrate:

·         Prepare the student to receive the teaching; the what, the who, the how, the when, the why

·         Present the job (material) to be done (learned) and practiced

·         Actively involve the person to be trained in what they are expected to learn and what they are needing to develop into a personal skill

·         Follow up after the teaching to ensure they have transformed the knowledge trained into their living the important skill that they personally practice

This probably sounds like a lot of work which likely wasn’t a part of what you originally considered to be your duties as the professor / trainer.  However the “A” through “F” grade your students exhibit on the job, and in life, is also a reflection of how well you trained them to master the important aspects of what they need to perform after your training takes place.

The Doc   

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ripples – Making a lasting difference

I recently viewed a YouTube video on the consequences of how our small, personal acts of kindness can have far reaching effects on others with whom we have interacted. This message was presented as a metaphor about a person dropping a pebble into a pond and then watching the ceaseless ripples go out with unknown impact into the unknown surroundings.

This brought to mind a number of people who have dropped pebbles into my pond and how I was affected way beyond what was originally intended by the person dropping the pebble.   Early on was a boss I worked for while attending graduate school.  I was at a decision point to scrap a long planned graduation vacation with my wife or go directly into the workforce and make money.  I calculated all the financial ramifications and going to work looked very beneficial.  John, my boss at the time, then talked to me about a metaphorical high paying career of endlessly cracking eggs while sitting in a corner.  He contrasted this high paying, mind numbing job with seeking out what would deliver a lesser paying career in a field which would bring personal satisfaction and not just more money.  The vacation my wife and I took brought a personal experience and bonding that the extra money could never have delivered.  The lesson in the trade off of more money verses a more satisfying personal  life experience for the two of us and for our children has replayed (rippled) itself numerous times over the years.

Years later Dr. Dan Petersen dropped his pebbles in my pond about the importance of culture and accountabilities in developing excellent safety performance for an organization.  About the same time, other people in my life dropped pebbles in my pond related to creative problem solving, Continuous Improvement team excellence and action item matrices. These ripples combined resulted in the development of a safety culture excellence process that Caterpillar Inc. now uses worldwide which has helped to eliminate tens of thousands of injuries.

As a result of these people going out of their way to cause caring ripples in my life, I have had numerous chances to drop pebbles on how to deliver safety culture performance excellence with safety personnel and associated executives across our planet.  Not surprisingly, the desire to help other people, as influential people helped me, has allowed my many acquaintances to benefit.  In turn they have delivered on their personal desire to spread ripples of learning, way beyond just safety related issues, to many other people.   

There are numerous other people who have sent both pleasurable and painful ripples into my life.  However, the 500 word limit on a blog article forces me to get to the point of this epistle; What pebbles can you drop into the huge pond of life that will ripple out over time to improve the lives of the masses of known, unknown and unseen others?

The Doc

Monday, May 11, 2015

Home safe home – Off-the-job challenges for the safety pro

A while back National Safety Council (NSC) published data about off-the-job safety statistics being far worse than those on the job.  These 2010 statistics had nearly 90% of fatalities and 70% of medical cases occurring to industrial employees while they were away from work. 

At a recent safety consulting meeting, the focus shifted to family time and what the safety pro can do to reduce risk.  How many of us have trained our loved ones and neighbors about basics like:

·         Ladder safety 
·         Fall protection
·         Emergency preparedness
·         Fire extinguisher use
·         Yard work PPE
·         Water safety
·         Phone usage in operating vehicles

Our group took turns training each other on these basic off-the-job safety tips so that we could in turn train our family and friends.  One participant even talked about the importance of developing a “code word” for your children to use when approached by an adult who claims to be representing the absent parent.  We live in a very dynamic world, which is different from when we were raised by our parents. How can you effectively utilize your safety professionalism off the job?

The Doc

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