Monday, October 17, 2011

How to change an industry’s safety performance

To make a change in an industry’s safety performance, the first necessary element is a Guiding Coalition/Steering team that will help work with the various idea/solution providers and the wide ranging customer base and their leadership. We have worked with similar Guiding Coalitions in: The Wind Industry; the electrical contractor transmission and distribution (T&D) – OSHA strategic safety partnership; North West Public Power Association (NWPPA); National Mining Association, as well as large decentralized industrial companies.

What follows is a meeting in which discussions center around: the players, the issues, the Guiding Coalition’s realities and the time constraints. In each of our above mentioned partnerships, we have provided a limited starting proposal that has a focus on one segment of the total organization spectrum. This is the pilot we believe necessary to prove the concept under field reality conditions.

The Guiding Coalition/Steering team follows the pilot performance progress each month as a part of the formal review process. Start up to final results typically takes 9 – 12 months. Each of the organizations we have worked with has had experience with other approaches to safety culture excellence and has decided to try our proposed solution only. However, it is not all that uncommon for organizations to do a “bake off” with more than one potential solution provider.

Once the pilot is finished, the Guiding Coalition team decides on a roll out strategy that includes a limited number of other divisions/organizations who want to implement the solution process. This next phase includes: organization training; third party assistance; Guiding Coalition reporting and system wide communications on the progress. This progressive roll out continues and is actively reported on at national conferences and in publications to all allied organization sites. The Guiding Coalition team continues to monitor field reports and provide input to these groups as appropriate. They also assist in the documentation of the best practices and in so doing help to set, monitor and communicate the standards of the total organization community.

During the time of this guided roll out, specific culture questions are answered, personnel development is addressed, training is solidified, documentation is finalized, practical audits are developed and the diagnostics are modified, if necessary. The Guiding Coalition/Steering team has a hand in all this with various sub teams that are evaluating, developing and improving the tools and approaches being implemented across the industry. Each of the sub teams and their target process partners are chartered to ensure timing, scope, resource and deliverables. The data and input for the sub teams comes from the partners who are either rolling out or actively using the improved safety culture approaches.

And now some do’s and don’ts for such an industry wide initiative:
  • Choose the development and roll out organizations carefully. They must want to be a part of this effort and not just assigned to it. The effort required to be successful is not trivial. They have to stay the course over time.
  • Make sure the charters are done well. There needs to be excellence in defining and delivering time, scope, resources, good leadership, commitment and outcomes.
  • Perform initial and ongoing in-depth training that answers questions and develops knowledge of the safety culture excellence approach with all members of the Guiding Coalition/Steering team and the pilot teams.
  • Ensure the teams are well funded.
  • Make sure the Guiding Coalition/Steering team is relatively small, compatible and with no side agendas, poor relationships, predetermined outcomes, and the like. There also must be a couple of field savvy "boots on the ground" types who are a part of this leadership. They provide a reality check that is absolutely necessary to delivering the credibility that will be required for any industry wide initiative to be successful with the line organization hourly employees who are to live the new and improved safety culture.
The Doc

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