Monday, June 27, 2011

Seeds – Doing what you can

A quote I heard recently goes something like “If you cannot create a tree plant a seed.” Many of us in the safety profession work for different organizations and on significantly varying projects. Recently, I find my work is taking me to many different organizations scattered across the planet. I feel fortunate that at each location one or more of the audience comes forward and engages to some depth in discussions on creating or improving viable safety cultures.
This is a lot different from my days at the facility level where I could work in the longer term to assist in growing a tree of culture excellence. These days it is more about planting a seed and then watering it via email or phone calls.
We all have different stages in life that affect our potential impact on work and families and their cultures. Yet when called upon, I cannot opt out if the situation links with the talents I have developed over the years. So, I take time to plant that seed. And, if called on, water it to the best of my abilities within the available resources. Maybe, just maybe, there is a small forest sprouting in the scattered landscape of my travel realities. The message? Don’t opt out if personal perfection is not possible; rather engage to the best of your ability with the situation that is presented to you. The days and memories are better this way than if I had done nothing.
The Doc


Monday, June 20, 2011

World Class safety cultures – What does it take


Is there anything from Caterpillar Safety Services outlining the positive things or actions that we can expect to see in facilities with 'world class' responses to the survey questions for each of the survey process elements?


Best Regards, Steve


World Class safety performance:


Back in the days of the survey development one of the team members, Dr. Dan Petersen, defined world class safety as an organization that was within the best 10% of his customers at this point in time. The best had a total injury frequency of 1.0 – 1.2 and a lost time frequency of 10% of that, or about 0.1 based on 200,000 hours of work. Some 20 years later our best customers have total injury frequency rates of 0.4- 0.7 and go multiple years without a lost time injury no matter which industry or country they operate in. These lower downstream indicators come from accountability and process excellence. And thus I would redefine ‘world class safety’ as an organization that is continuously improving in safety and is relentless in their efforts to get to zero. I am really more interested in the organization’s safety culture focus and improvement efforts than in the downstream indicators.



These organizations engaged in the relentless pursuit of zero do some very interesting and effective things like:


• Teach and live Near Miss excellence and then deliver 1-2 near miss solutions per employee per year. That means they do hundreds of Near Miss Resolutions each year and solve about 90% of them within 3-5 business days by the work group that turned them in. Their injury numbers plummet as a result of this intensity on fixing whatever is not right in their area of responsibility.


• They run 2-4 continuous improvement safety teams each year to fix (error proof) the Safety Perception Survey key processes. In addition they also complete 3-5 other safety issue continuous improvement team items each year.


• They all have completed a team focused on Safety Accountabilities. As a result personnel from all levels of their organization live these important safety culture upstream activities that deliver downstream indicator performance.

To get more depth ideas on these concepts you can read the Six Sigma Safety article that was published in Professional safety a while back. You should also have your organization begin to live Dr. Dan Petersen’s Six Criteria of Safety Excellence. Both these safety engagement culture realities really work in helping you and your organization deliver and live a relentless pursuit of world class safety performance.


The Doc

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting Older - The realities of a retired life

How many of you read the “obits” in the paper? I remember an old ditty that goes something like: “I wake up each morning and dust off my wits, pick up the paper and read the obits. If my name isn’t there I know I know I’m not dead, so I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.” When I look at the obits, I especially enjoy the nostalgic photos of loved ones like the young man grinning from a WW 2 uniform, or the beautiful, vibrant young lady outfitted in 1930’s dress with a script that reads something like “89 years young, grew up on a farm in Illinois during the Depression.”



It seems that all too often those who have had long lives feel sidelined as they reach their latter years. But in the obits we see verses, messages and readings reminding us that the older we are, the more meaningful and enjoyable our lives. More over, they often allude to communities in which these men and women were “planted,” so that in the rich soil of fellowship with others they continued to “bear fruit” and be “fresh and flourishing.”


After a week of working on my daughter’s latest project list at their home in Connecticut, I recognize that muscles ache, joints hurt and my pace sure has slowed down. And I am thankful that I am still able to be “renewed day by day” even though the renewal process takes longer and is significantly assisted by the Jacuzzi tub we installed a while back on our small farm.


As I continue being a semi-retired part time employee my wife has threatened to have a T shirt made for me that reads “I’m not 67, I’m 17 with 50 years of experience.” No matter how old we get, we can still be young at heart, with the added benefits of our many years of knowledge, wisdom, service and personal devotion.


The Doc


Monday, June 6, 2011

Difficult Times – Rising to the Occasion

The first six months of this year have been memorable - make that indelible as a result of a string of personal and local disasters. In January, I dislocated and broke my ankle while very carefully walking in the snow. Within a week I had to take an assignment in the remote frozen north of Canada. Since that first grueling trip I have had the continual “opportunity” to gain first hand knowledge of the challenges (and some victories) facing people who live in a world of wheel chairs, crutches and pain medications.



Once off crutches, splints and “meds,” and while on R&R in Australia, I limped along a beach only to receive a painful foot wound on a hidden object in the sand and viola, both feet were bunged up. Upon returning home, we were greeted by downed trees, power outages and “fried” home electronics, the collateral damage of storms that swept the Midwest in our absence. Shortly thereafter a hacker brought down my computer systems with an especially nasty virus making my travel and business presentations very difficult.


During this same period I witnessed far worse tragedies in my travels: Massive flooding in Australia; Inundated farmland and homes in the Mississippi River basin of the United States; Tornado devastation near my son’s living area in Mississippi; Total forest fire destruction in sections of northern Canada.


Why do these things happen? Could it be that there are adversities in our lives to determine if we can get over them properly? As experienced adults we may no longer be surprised by fiery trials, because strange things have happened and continue to happen to us. But, it is more difficult when, try as we may, we cannot shield our children from their own trials.


In life it seems we need to rise to the occasion and do what the trial demands of us. And as parents we need to teach our children about this fact. I have found out that struggles which are an inevitable part of my life are not resolved by my complaints, but by learning and applying an internal vitality to face anything that comes my way. I never could dictate demands to my father, nor can I make demands on what life brings to me, and so many others have it much worse than I.


Without a doubt I need to get beyond complaining and self pity and carry on working through the adversities. And, by the way, it sure helps that we have a small community of wonderfully supportive friends and work associates around to help. When they come to our aid it is a personal pleasure to thank them for all they do for us. And then I look for opportunities to return the favor to them or to someone else. In this world of trials and tribulations there is always someone in need I can reach out to and assist.


The Doc

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