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.