Monday, August 5, 2013

Up and Down – A formula for safety culture improvement

An important insight on safety is that “Safety is management reinforced, but crew led.” One of our safety culture models shows accountabilities flowing up the organization only when support to do these value-added activities flows down through the organization. How is that accomplished? Well, there is need for commitment, education and all the normal building blocks of a strong work group. The key to delivering this is DTMR:

  • Define what needs to be done with respect to safety by each of the job functions. This needs to be well thought out and tested in a pilot which exercises the appropriate actions defined for each of the jobs people across the organization do.
  • Train  the personnel in various job levels in what their defined accountabilities are in this system. The training is all job related and is meant to remove uncertainty and, with some role playing exercises, instill confidence in execution of the safety accountabilities. In turn this makes the next step of Measure much easier to accomplish.
  • Measure  how the activities which make a difference in safety performance will be evaluated. The usual approach is one-on-one visible, felt contact with the one being evaluated. This approach is much more effective than email or spreadsheet evaluations. Sure such e-tracking is used. However, the confirmation/audit is by people in the field asking open-ended questions, often along the line of “Tell me about the JSA that applies to the job you are doing,” or maybe “Tell me about the near-miss activities in your work group.” One of the oft repeated axioms of business and safety is “What gets measured is what gets done.” Here is the way management reinforces safety culture activities.
  • Recognition, as the final step, is really value-added feedback on how well the safety accountabilities being reviewed are accomplished. It is one-on-one safety performance recognition that reinforces the importance of a safety culture of correct. This kind of safety incentive system is not about money. It is personal recognition for doing the job safely and correctly. Time and again this kind of recognition system outscores the normal trash and trinkets or gain-sharing financial rewards that incent the low injury rate statistics we have all struggled with. The famous axiom to the above corollary about measurement is “What gets rewarded is what gets done first.” And thus this approach has upper management visible and credible in rewarding front line employees’ safety efforts.

What is happening with this approach is visible upper management support and reinforcement for crew-led safety activities. This kind of safety leadership across the organization truly works well.

The Doc 

1 comment:

  1. Safety leadership reinforces that safety is an expectation, not an afterthought or something to be rushed through at the end of the day. When safety is elevated and recognized by management, you're one step closer to building a safety culture instead of having people pick and choose the safety practices they implement, or ignore good practice altogether.


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