Monday, August 27, 2012

Question 58 – Does being safe slow down production?


The safety perception survey jointly developed by Drs. Dan Petersen and Charles Bailey provides significant statistically valid insights into an organization’s safety culture. It also provides some noticeable controversies. I guess my favorite of these is question # 58: “Does compliance with safety rules and regulations slow down the operation?”

 In many of the company survey reports there has been considerable discussion as to whether question 58 should be answered “no” instead of the “yes” the original researchers designated as the correct answer. I discussed this question with one of the survey originators, Dr. Dan Petersen. His said the correct answer to this question is “yes.”

No matter what Dan’s response, to me the real issue here indicates whether safety has been integrated into the operation as a value added component. It is all about safety integrity for each and every process in a facility/organization. I believe that work groups should carefully study their processes and build adequate safety precautions into them. These processes must be done to the level that excellence in safety is not a hindrance to excellence in production and cost, but adds value to the operation.

The “Quality Revolution” successfully faced this same challenge a number of years ago when the new concept of zero defects caused plant personnel to slow down and inspect for quality. The operations world would not allow a binary approach to quality that goes something like “Do you want quality or productivity?” Soon the realities of intense global competition dictated that this approach of non-value added work (effort) had to be eliminated. Quality and productivity could not be mutually exclusive. When this quality revelation occurred in the quality revolution, quality became a third cornerstone of manufacturing, just like productivity and cost.

Safety is at this same crossroads in globally dominant organizations. Safety and productivity cannot be mutually exclusive. The end result is non-value added work to preserve safety (slowing down) must be engineered out of processes as safety becomes the fourth cornerstone of operations. As the organization goes through its safety improvement efforts, global excellence will demand fast, cost effective, high quality, SAFE solutions living in all processes. If you have not tackled this challenge yet, get ready. Global competition that demands excellence has this safety slow down issue in the cross hairs of its improvement efforts.

The Doc

1 comment:

  1. We all know and have read about this definition, 'reasonably practicable'? This Involves an analysis of the cost of the measures to be implemented in terms of time, effort required to implement them, financial cost etc. against the amount of risk reduction which will be achieved by implementing them. If the cost is grossly disproportionate to the amount of achievable risk reduction, then it would not be reasonably practicable to implement the controls.
    I have conducted risk assessments across all sectors over the past few years and it seems to me that when productivity suffers it’s because health and safety is hind sight in most cases, an afterthought in most minds, or just implemented by un-reasonable people.
    The scenario is, facilities are conducting a series of simple maintenance tasks, changing light bulbs, in the past these where low budget and no accidents suggested that the way in which these low level tasks where being conducted where adequately safe.
    Changes in management soon saw an increase in costs associated to these tasks as the manager changed the means of access, to most, not a problem, to the worker a massive undertaking, as the new means of access required a permit to work, not unreasonable for the majority of sites, however when the tasks are being conducted in an office block that houses nearly 1000 office workers you can imagine how many light bulbs may need changing and what problems this may cause, also this same task of changing the light bulbs also required a fixed scaffold tower 1.7 metres, to be erected by qualified scaffolder and tagged, by now bells should be ringing.
    In months to come the budget increased to an excessive level, less light bulbs where changed and office workers where constantly disrupted and the only thing that could remotely justify the change in controls and methodology where that accidents rates didn’t change, however this doesn’t justify everything.
    The moral- Health and safety is not just finding the safest means possible, it’s a diplomatic process between what needs to be done, how it should be done and who needs to do it. Never should you place someone at risk to get a task done, in most cases implementing engineering controls is also knowing what is available from suppliers, involving those who conduct the tasks on a daily basis and listening to their suggestions.

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