Monday, September 27, 2010

Hub Caps

What is the purpose of a hub cap? Well... it makes the vehicle look better, but has little to do with performance. It makes you feel good, but other than that really does nothing constructive. 

A cynic in the audience might very well draw some parallels with laws and programs that sound good, but really don’t accomplish anything of lasting value.

We have many programs in safety that seem awfully similar to hub caps: the annual safety poster contest, safety bingo, trash and trinkets incentive systems, etc. Well those were pretty easy, but what about some sacred cow hub caps like Lagging Indicators or Behavior Based Safety? Can you read on if one of these really nifty hub caps is “attacked?”

Observation Programs/Behavior Based Safety/BBS-- While being a better than nothing addition to an outdated regulations only approach, the ever popular “catch and correct” programs that teach line employees to observe and report:
  • Do not deliver zero
  • Tend to abdicate management of safety leadership responsibility
  • Are not easily integrated into other management functions throughout the organization
OK, if implemented as a part of a robust system that includes proper accountabilities and training, they can become an element of the safety toolbox. However, this “level 2” tool is often viewed as:
  • A stumbling block by hourly employees that both react to peer pressure and desire active upper management participation. Checking off forms and tracking (often) questionable data inspires neither the hourly employee nor upper management
  • A quick safety awareness improvement tool that unfortunately also quickly becomes both ineffective and an expensive non-value-added frill
  • A reactive approach that is both foreign to and lacks credibility with executives. No where else in the many decades of operations excellence is such a “check on (rat on) your fellow worker” approach used
Does BBS have some value? Yes, none of us go into the workplace with our eyes closed. 

Should BBS be a tool in the safety performance world? Yes.

 Should BBS be a cornerstone of your organization’s safety efforts? Based on the above, I think not. 

Why not spend your scarce time, involvement and financial resources for safety in developing solutions to safety issues that work better than hub caps?

The Doc

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