Monday, June 25, 2012

Devil – The details of a safety accountability culture


As a famous cliché reads; the devil is in the details. I often get asked about the details of a viable safety accountability culture. An example of visible executive involvement is personal commitment to safety accountability (S/A), to be involved in a review and discussion of appropriate actions for all significant incidents and near misses. Whereas  the supervisor is responsible to develop the work and safety talents of the hourly workforce, this S/A model has the hourly employees accountable to deliver job skill and job specific safety training. Hourly employees can’t do this unless the supervisor helps in the development of their capabilities.

The Continuous Improvement (CI) team develops the curriculum for both supervisors and hourly workers and helps in training them to be comfortable and proficient in this kind of job related safety culture excellence. And this all leads to another S/A for the middle manager superintendent- 1:1 conversations and open- ended questions with hourly employees and supervisors to have them demonstrate/train the middle manager on the desired skills.

Sounds like Plan, Do, Check, Act? Yep, it is, and we do this at a frequency that reinforces the importance of these safety tasks. The plan has us all living accountabilities, demonstrating commitment by our actions and encouraging active involvement by everyone in our organization. This type of culture does not just fall out of a tree. You have to spend years with your small CI teams developing the details and implementing the systems. At first, there may be some disturbing failures before the” trees” mature enough to consistently yield their fruits of safety excellence. And then, at last, every day you can harvest the fruits of a safety excellence culture by just tending the garden (paying attention to the indicators of excellence and need).  Safety accountability then becomes your culture, just the way you do things around here. But it sure takes some hard work in the devil's details to get to there.

The Doc

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