Friday, May 29, 2009

Knife River sets precedent for industry

The aggregate industry has experienced a significant reduction in injuries and incidents. This article explains how these next two years -- if current trends hold -- will go down as the safest yet for aggregate-materials companies.

Keep reading and you'll see why the report highlights CoreMedia client Zach Knoop of Knife River. Here's an excerpt:
Zach Knoop is safety director for Knife River in Bismarck, N.D. That company recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of no reportable MSHA violations. “We began looking at culture several years ago, and within the past two years, our emphasis is much more on that than on conditions and traditional safety management,” Knoop says. In 2007, Knife River conducted a company-wide employee safety perception survey. The survey results allowed Knife River to determine strengths and weaknesses, and provided the company with a baseline.

“From that, we developed a Continuous Improvement Safety Process,” Knoop says. “This process involves our employees in coming up with solutions to the weaknesses. In 2008, we had more than 25 cross-functional (aggregates, construction, trucking, etc.) teams tackling various safety deficiencies.”

The teams have the support of management to develop and implement solutions. CoreMedia, consultants out of Portland, Ore., has assisted Knife River in implementing its new safety processes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Driving while intexticated?

At one time or another, we’ve all added at least one more unnecessary risk while driving: tuning the radio, unwrapping a chalupa, reaching for a coffee, talking on the phone. None of it's good. All of it elevates risk. It affects you and whoever else is sharing the road.

"I'll never understand why we do that to ourselves," says Washington County (Ore.) Deputy Aaron Dolyniuk. "Even after pulling over hundreds of drivers, I still can't tell which motorists have been drinking from those who're distracted until I finally get a chance to talk to them."

From a highway-safety perspective, whether the driver is drunk or checking for dandruff, he is still maneuvering a potentially destructive force while not fully engaged with his surroundings. The difference between a life-altering injury and safely getting from Point A to Point B, explains Offcr. Dolyniuk, is always a split second.

A split second. Inattentive or distracted drivers exhibit the same behaviors in judgment and reaction as drivers under the influence of alcohol. It's been proven by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Year after year, NHTSA data shows that three million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents every year, and over 40,000 die. Inattentive drivers attribute to 19% of all crashes, which equates to approximately 2 million accidents. Highway studies also indicate that age-old behaviors such as changing a CD doubles your crash risk, and making a phone call increases an accident risk by a factor of three. And when basic distractions are combined -- scanning a map while grabbing for your coffee, for instance -- we're asking for trouble. More than one task while driving is akin to driving under the influence of intoxicants. Add drowsiness and it's a death wish.

You know the best practices, but it often boils down to our attitude and staying in the moment. When you consider that Americans collectively drive three trillion miles every year, every single moment counts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #8

My CEO continues to see safety as compliance, where safety is relegated to incident rates and days away metrics.
If this really is true, view it as a great opportunity. Let him or her know that your safety program -- regardless of the current state it’s in -- is directly impacting every aspect of the health of the organization. If you think it will help, enlist your operations leader to explain how safety performance affects work processes. Talk to the CFO about cost savings. Send an email to the V.P. who oversees quality. Someone on the executive team will know what’s going on. The earth is round, the sky is blue, and your "safety culture change process” will impact the entire performance of the company. The plan is to create a process so the company can improve communication, teamwork, and relationships (among both internal and external customers). Safety can drive a workplace that fosters greater caring, trust, openness, participation, and commitment. And, yes, performance.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CSU is the real deal

CSU™ is CoreMedia Supervisor University. It's the brainchild of a handful of clients who share a concern with their ability to efficiently and effectively ply employees with key leadership skills. In other words, good supervisors are hard to come by; newbie (or veteran) supervisors too often need a lot of help in the areas of how best to oversee employees ... that is, an understanding of interpersonal communication, recognition, motivation, discipline, and modeling the right behaviors. It's impossible to take these so-called soft skills for granted. So important in the context of safety, yet not easy to teach. The refrain we've been hearing is this:

It would be extremely helpful to have an instructional tool that is self-paced, relevant, and demonstrates how and why supervisors need to be less concerned about safety outcomes and more excited about being effective leaders and mentors. What if there was a portable instruction mechanism that explains how to lead by example, elicit involvement, encourage commitment, get people to speak up and listen up . . . for safety?

That's the catalyst behind CSU. To my knowledge, CSU is the singular self-directed safety-culture online curricula for personnel who need to understand the principles and strategies of effective safety leadership (which, by the way, includes the kind of thinking that fuels a sustainable culture of safety excellence). The course curricula isn't just for supervisors, either. Because overcoming complacency and heightened risk awareness is a responsibility of everyone, the CSU content works for people at all levels and disciplines and specialties.

To be sure, there's nothing ordinary about the experience of a CSU course. Rich with detail, the combination of interface and voice-over narration delivers in a way that's compelling and engaging -- never boring. If this post sounds like a shameless plug, my bad. It's just that I'm excited to say it holds great promise in helping supervisors help themselves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #7

Getting the ear of upper management is relatively easy. The hard part is making the ideas stick, or preventing lip service.
Remember, upper management is entrusted with the task of the overall growth of the organization; if results aren't matching upper management requirements, it will invariably hamper the growth of the organization. It could also lead to a situation wherein the organization loses sight of its original aims and objectives. The point is to get familiar with the CEO’s own set of responsibilities and goals, and then align your safety improvement map as clearly as possible with what the CEO wants and needs to accomplish.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At the Caterpillar Dealer Safety Conference

It's a little bit quieter in the plant this week, in part, because CoreMedia's Shannon Broughton and Todd Britten (CSP) are in Charleston, S.C., taking part in Caterpillar's annual Dealer Safety Conference.

Shannon is spending time with a few CoreMedia clients and fielding questions about one of the keynotes presented by Todd and Noe Cisneros from Texas-based Holt CAT. The presentation, titled How to Elicit Safety Involvement to Drive Genuine Change, provides an overview of how the 2,000-employee company has jumped the charts in safety performance (i.e., DART and TIRR).

One of Noe's main points, however, will be to ask his peers to put away their recordables data for a moment and focus on safety's leading indicators.

"We know we’ve come a long way, explains Noe, but there's something bigger that impacts everything: that is, the infectious amount of enthusiasm for our safety and well-being. "That's what makes the difference between a flavor-of-the month campaign and genuine sustainability," he says. "It's a message we all need to hear."

Holt's two-plus year safety-culture journey involved a combination of assessments, internally-led continuous improvements teams, an overhaul to its near miss reporting system, communications and events, and refining accountabilities. Noe will be the first one to say it's ongoing. There's never a time to let up.

To be sure, I'm not only glad Todd and Shannon are able to spend quality time with some valued clients, but -- and I can safely speak for all of CoreMedia -- it's also an honor and privilege to be part of such a great group of safety professionals. More than 40 dealers from all over North America are attending. And they're there to learn and exchange ideas that can be applied anywhere.

"When your message is helping companies help themselves," says Shannon, "We often find ourselves coaching the guys who 'get it' sell the points internally. Once we get buy-in from the top, it's all systems go, which is when big change happens."

In any case, CoreMedia and these CAT dealers make for exceptional partners, and Todd and Shannon are instrumental in understanding what these companies are up against, what has worked, and what has been less than successful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CoreMedia’s START ready for re-make

It’s official. CoreMedia owns START, the training product CoreMedia originally produced on behalf of Argonaut Insurance in 1990.

For the uninitiated, START -- Supervisor Training in Accident Reduction Techniques -- established a new paradigm to help supervisors understand safety's critical imperative. START continues to be the singular product that clarifies the economic relationship between safety and profitability -- and laying the foundation for holding people accountable.

There’s few other training programs out there -- if any -- that so effectively help supervisors further the safety culture mission. START helps supervisors -- and all leaders -- view safety with the same sense of urgency as productivity and on-time delivery. The program works because it takes what works for quality, production, delivery, etc., and applies the proven techniques to safety. It looks at safety through the lens of running a successful business. Specifically, START's four-video course emphasizes the importance of safety accountability, multi-causation of incidents, recognition and motivation, and how supervisors can shape a safety culture that prevents incidents. The kit includes easy-to-understand workbooks that help learners understand and marshal safety excellence.

For any organization still focused on recordable and lost-time injury statistics rather than on measurable and trainable to-do's, START is the answer. Next step, finding some partners who may want some say about how the re-make is shot and re-made.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #6

CoreMedia appears to believe in a select group of proven tools and support tactics — does this mean I need CoreMedia?
First of all, CoreMedia "tools" and "tactics" are simply based on business principles and best practices that have been successful in transforming continuous improvement across quality, productivity and deliverability for decades. There’s no smoke and mirrors or magic to CoreMedia’s approach. With regard to needing a third-party to get you started and guide you, that’s up to you. Yes, we help establish a baseline measurement which can be a tremendous -- some say necessary -- asset. The bigger point is that we all recognize that every culture is different and every culture requires involvement. The more active participation, the better. Some organizations have to start small. The single common denominator is to always measure and track what you’re doing. In other words, measurement ensures accountability and followup. What does your immediate boss expect of you personally? Are you accomplishing those goals? If so, just keep doing the best you can and find opportunities here and there to win some battles and tout the benefits of what you're accomplishing. Sometimes leaders try to approach culture as a problem to be solved, as if it were a broken machine. This often fails because culture is "not a problem" and cannot be broken. Every company has a culture. Every company is a culture. You improve it by deciding what values you want more of and then by looking for opportunities in what you do every day that demonstrate and reinforce those values. Changing a culture is a "doing" endeavor, not an "analyzing" activity.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #5

What about the middle-level managers? Where do they fit into the “support” equation?
Upper management support is a hard sell, but middle management still needs to get on board, too. If there’s a type of contract in place to outline the importance of position-specific, measurable actions that can be followed up on, you’re able to diminish the likeliness of creating a moving target. Meanwhile, know who your ardent middle-management supporters are as well as vocal (or not) adversaries. Inadequate support from middle managers can create widespread resistance to implementing process steps, resentment about the project's time demands, and a tendency toward negative assessments.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #4

The CEO has given me a green light to do what I need to do, but “support” pretty much stops there. What do I do?
People need a role. As soon as you can enlist the right people — even if it’s the CEO — and assign them a doable “agreed-upon” and well-defined contract, you’ve effectively initiated your vision. If you’re calling for a meeting, remember that a productive one requires interchange, which gets more difficult as you increase the number of people in the room. If you expect problem-resolution or planning, break up your meetings into smaller groups at different times. Always remember the POP Statement (that is, Purpose, Outcome, Process) and direct the meeting's agenda toward a series of action items with dates, deliverables, and assignments. Remember, the guidelines and approach to running an effective meeting for safety topic are the same for running a meeting about marketing initiative.

If your initial hope is to disseminate your idea — information only for instance — send a memo or report instead (with a follow-up action item, of course), so people can read and review it at their own pace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #3

Is a “safety culture change initiative” a lost cause if I can’t get upper management support?
No. Change has to start somewhere. Change happens because of people's actions. Where will you be this time next year if you did nothing? Where will you be this time next year if you committed to fulfilling a single action once a week for the remainder of '09? Just because all of the top management team doesn't marshal the culture-change initiative doesn’t mean the entire leadership is on board. As a safety manager or director, you often have to win executive converts one at a time, and present the proven criteria for a culture of safety excellence. The point is to identify a champion within the executive ranks and propose a pilot approach that’s leveraged by the Six Criteria for Safety Excellence. As far as establishing a full on "safety culture change initiative," there are processes for that . . . a process that ENGAGES LEADERSHIP, ASSESSES THE CULTURE, BUILDS THE PLAN, IMPLEMENTS THE PLAN, and CHECKS THE PROGRESS. Where CoreMedia's concerned, it's an approach called The Zero-Incident Process, otherwise known as The ZIP Process. It works.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Garnering Internal Support: Tip #2

I’m tired of the “Accident Reaction Cycle” where we always seem to fall back into the inertia of business as usual. For authentic change and to establish sustainable continuous improvement, how do you recommend I get started?
Aside from equipping yourself with the right tools and support tactics, it’s essential that you educate yourself with the Six Criteria for Safety Excellence and the accountability steps. On a personal level, become an information junkie on what works and doesn't work in business and in safety. Get your ducks in a row. Arm yourself. And don't kick off your vision by inviting a dozen people to a meeting, and then expect them to listen. Bite off more than you can chew too early and your vision gets tainted with an “it won’t work” perception. If you believe, it can happen. Just because upper management may drag its feet or view your effort as a “pet project” doesn't mean you can't take little actions to pave the path toward change.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tips for Garnering Internal Support

"If getting internal support is necessary to establish a culture of sustainable change, I'm stuck until I figure out how to make my case to the executive-level decision-makers. So . . . help, please."

Thanks to CoreMedia's consultants, you're in luck. For the remainder of May, you can expect a Tip of the Day for ways to garner authentic company-wide buy-in and support. The next three weeks or so will give you the questions, objections, and concerns that too often plague frustrated EH&S managers and prevent safety programs from breaking through the status quo. I give to you Question 1, which describes -- ahem -- what is meant by "upper management support" . . .

I understand “Upper Management Support” is one of the Six Criteria for Success, but what does it really mean?
Upper management support goes beyond having a budget. Upper management support is a visible and vocal endorsement of the executive team — or at least the president or CEO — that demonstrates why the safety accountability or culture-change initiative is a corporate-wide mission-critical priority. Support comprises not only adequate funding of resources, but also a communications and operations strategy and a process to execute accountability agreements and improvement measurements (i.e., define, train, measure, reward). Ideally, visible support is a consistent and regular action item among those at the helm. The challenge, of course, is to ensure that support remains constant even when the leaders or their titles change.

Friday, May 8, 2009

BC in the PC

Anyone who's familiar with CoreMedia and the Crane family is pretty excited about this guy right now. PGA Golfer Ben Crane is the brother of CoreMedia President and CEO Tim Crane. After Day One at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla., Ben is 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead. Not sure what this has to do with safety culture, but in terms of taking one hole at a time (and worrying about the scorecard later), I'd say Ben's round was a zero-incident performance.

[Update: Ben finished The Players Championship in a three-way tie for fifth (6-under). Tiger Woods placed eighth (5-under). Swede Henrik Stenson won it all with a score of 276 (12-under).]

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Word of The Day

Intexticated: Driving while texting. If cell phone devices are the new cigarette, texting while driving is the new speedball.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Safety Perception Survey (part i)

Aside from getting upper level management to better understand how much impact they have as involved leaders, it’s the Safety Perception Survey that has proved to be the best first-step tool to initiate culture change. More than any other mechanism, the Safety Perception Survey is the spark that gets everyone looking in the same direction. It's a map and a north star. The Safety Perception Survey puts a stake in the ground in safety culture terms while giving everyone an opportunity to voice an opinion. The mere process of responding to a series of questions is a campaign in itself. It says, "This is important. We want to know what you think."

From a pure technical standpoint, the Safety Perception Survey establishes a baseline measurement of employee attitudes and perceptions across 20 statistically validated safety culture indicators. Safety Perception Survey results present a barometer of the health and condition of an organization’s safety culture -- at least that's the case with the survey spawned from the original Univ. of Minnesota (Duluth) study led by Dan Petersen, Ed.D., and Charles Bailey, Ph.D. Petersen and Bailey are the duo who reverse engineered a series of questions around all kinds of data from healthy and not-so-healthy safety cultures; they identified a set of rock solid Safety Culture Indicators. Twenty of them, to be exact (e.g., Discipline, Recognition for Performance, Employee Training, Supervisor Training, Substance Abuse, etc.).

There’s so much to say about safety culture assessments and Dan Petersen's systemic post-survey approach to drive transformative change that it's not really something to be blogged, but the bigger point is what can be gained from the Safety Perception Survey itself. I leave you with this abridged list of Safety Perception Survey outcomes:

Pinpoint the effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses of the variables that drive incident prevention and risk awareness.

Utilize as an anchor point for a long-term strategy to achieve a safety culture of sustainable excellence.

Expose how well executive-level leadership and values reach front-line workers.

Identify safety system improvements that will further strengthen incident-prevention processes and drive performance.

Establish priorities that will facilitate building on strengths and overcome weaknesses.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It Too Often Takes a Tragedy...

Local bike-safety advocate Jonathan Maus tells the story about an engineering solution that was granted the fast track after the death of a 19-year-old woman on her way to class. The story is much more than that, of course. Her name was Tracey Sparling.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Six Criteria for Safety Excellence

There's beauty in simplicity.

But no one ever said simplicity is easy. Just ask an artist or scientist after they've created a magnum opus or published a cure. What may appear simple or even pedestrian to someone looking in from the outside, is often the result of years of hard work. Dan Petersen's Six Criteria works the same way. Easy to understand, not always easy to execute.

Still . . . in terms of attaining a culture of safety excellence, the Six Criteria is the closest thing to a silver bullet. It's the answer to "How can I overcome the status quo?" For an organization that's plateau'd after years of trying to reduce incidents, this is the what-needs-to-happen checklist.

1. Top management is visibly committed
2. Middle management is actively involved
3. Supervision is performance-focused
4. Hourly employees are actively participating
5. Safety system accommodates company culture
6. Safety system is positively perceived by the workforce

Friday, May 1, 2009

Godfather of Leading Indicators

As one of the most influential safety innovators of the twentieth century, Dan Petersen (1931-2007) is the award-winning author who has helped educate countless safety professionals, developed one of the industry’s original “company culture measurement” techniques, and advised some of the most well known names of American industry during a career that spanned more than 50 years.

Often referred to in trade publications as a “safety guru,” he was more than that. Petersen was Godfather, with a curmudgeony philosophy that unafraid of confronting CEOs and high-level executives on their responsibilities as leaders. Creating measurable accountabilities (and measuring their follow-through!) was a way to ensure the sustainability of an organization’s “culture of safety.” In addition to a long list of published titles and nearly a dozen “safety leadership” instructional videos, Petersen also served as the president of the National Safety Management Society and vice president of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and was a four-time recipient of the National Technical Paper Award of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Petersen’s published titles include Techniques in Safety Management (1971), Safety Supervision (1976), Safety Management: A Human Approach (1978), Analyzing Safety Performance (1980), Human Error Reduction and Safety Management (1982), Safety Objectives: What gets rewarded, gets done (1996), Managing Employee Stress (1990), Analyzing Safety System Effectiveness (1996), and Authentic Involvement (2001).

As a consultant, Petersen’s clients read like a who’s who of commerce: Amoco, Borg Warner, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Motors, IB, Proctor & Gamble, Frito-Lay and Warner Lambert. A certified safety professional and registered professional engineer, Petersen is credited for founding University of Arizona’s Graduate Program in Safety Management.

Born in Omaha, Neb., in 1931, Petersen served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Petersen’s safety career began in earnest with WAUSAU Insurance in 1953, where for eight years he tracked the health of foundry and tannery workers throughout Wisconsin. Petersen earned his doctorate in education at the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley) where his dissertation was titled, “Human error reduction and safety management.”

After his tenure at University of Arizona, Petersen taught at the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Minnesota (Duluth). It was in Duluth where Petersen teamed up with Charles Bailey, Ph.D., to identify categories that could accurately gauge the health of an organization’s safety environment. With the U.S. rail industry as the research project’s sponsor, Petersen and Bailey completed a safety perception survey and associated methodology in 1988, which is still considered the only statistically validated “safety culture” measurement process.

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