On a recent business trip, I took some vacation time off to trek through the mountains and jungles of Peru. My wife joined me in this part of the trip. At one of our evening lodging locations, we participated in an interesting and memorable local celebration. In their part of the world, roasted guinea pigs are considered a delicacy and served only for significant events. In this case, the significant event was my wife’s birthday. Yes, we do have a picture of her with the bar-be-qued rodent, complete with a roasted red pepper stuffed in its mouth.
How does this apply to safety? In our world, it is not uncommon to have some kind of safety celebration and food is often a part of this event. Some questions need to be answered before planning the celebration:
- Why celebrate? Try and make the reason predominantly based on upstream measures, and not on being lucky enough to have a low injury rate. The achievement of the safety goal being celebrated should be about our people doing the right things that led to the success. If the goal does deal with a significant safety injury rate milestone, point out the upstream activities of the people who made this possible.
- Who participates? The whole organization that was a part of achieving the goal being celebrated. This could be a small Continuous Improvement team that just finished launching its solution, or the whole facility that finally, and collectively rolled out such an initiative.
- When to celebrate? I like once a quarter as a part of a business review. It’s an opportunity for everyone to get up to speed with cost, quality, customer service and safety realities.
- Who leads the event? If it is a meal celebration, management serves along with the hourly safety committee members.
- Who plans the event? My preference is for a Continuous Improvement team to have a quarterly focus assignment for the celebration. In this way, the voice of the customer, our employees, gets input as to who, when, where, how and what to celebrate. They also choose the menu and, unless you are in the jungles of Peru, guinea pig is not likely to be on the menu.