Monday, August 26, 2013

The Road Most Traveled – Obstacles to your goals

It was one of those teachable moments my papa and I had a long time ago after one of the many disappointments which occur to all kids as they grow up. In this case his advice went something like “Son, the shortest distance between two points is always under construction.”  I guess nowadays we’d call it Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

And so over the years we all get caught in the construction zones of life, and we all make it through them.  To do so we must not give up on the goals we have in our minds, in our lives.  If you ladies are headed to an outlet mall or you guys toward a favorite fishing hole there is no amount of construction that can deter you – detour you maybe, but definitely not deter. The same is true for the life goals we set for ourselves both on and off the job. The safety profession is filled with challenges and we have all experienced the setbacks we call injuries as well as career changes that have us wondering will it ever end? Will we ever get there?
Sure, there are hardships. However, you do have the skills and background and tenacity that have been built up over the years of both adversity and success. The safety professionals I have had the pleasure to work with have all been committed to delivering the good and to staying in the game with the tenacity it takes to do so. Keep up the good fight, work through the detours and construction zones in your life. It is worth doing so.

The Doc

Monday, August 19, 2013

Global Safety Excellence

Our present manufacturing and service related world focuses both on sustainability and safety as a value.  As a result more and more organizations are seriously in search of a strategy which will assist them in breaking through the safety performance plateaus achievable via dated regulations and observation based safety programs.  An added challenge is the need to have this more advanced kind of safety system work on a global basis in a plethora of countries that have very different safety backgrounds and cultures from those normally found in mature industrialized nations. 

Caterpillar is a large global company that takes this safety challenge seriously. In its more than 300 facilities or offices around the world, the Caterpillar organization employs some 150,000 people. This global footprint is spread across more than 180 countries and includes countless cultures. In 2003 Cat’s global RIF (Recordable Injury Frequency) was 6.22; way too high for the leadership values.  A strong push with level one (reacting to regulation condition type of issues) and level two (reacting to observable weaknesses) tools was launched worldwide.  This effort brought the RIF down to 1.17 by 2009 and then to 1.07 in 2012.  As a result of this strategy there has been a global reduction of more than 44,000 recordable injuries since 2003.  However, this RIF plateau at about 1.0 is particularly frustrating to corporate and local leaderships, especially considering the next step down to a RIF of 0.6 represents another 4,000 avoidable serious injuries.

In 2010 the decision was made to begin an in-depth safety culture strategy which would go beyond using RIF (and its related, dated tools approach) as the predominate safety indicator.  The objective for this initiative is to transform the organization from one that measures undesirable injuries to one that relentlessly pursues a safety culture which lives the presence of safety.  This sea change focus moved to what cannot be visibly seen, safety culture.   The 2010 strategic shift had Caterpillar purchasing CoreMedia, a globally recognized safety culture company, then carefully testing and integrating its safety culture models and methods at facility and dealer locations. 

The Safety Culture World webinar scheduled for August 28, 2013, will detail this journey to date and share our strategy for moving from a reactive to a proactive safety culture worldwide. View webinar details and register at

The Doc   

Monday, August 12, 2013

Service - Paying our dues to be part of the profession

It seems as if being a part of the safety profession is an endless life of service; to a company, to employees, to bosses, to family, to….  Do you ever get tired of having to be a servant?  I know there have been numerous times I most certainly have.  And this feeling of semi-slavery isn’t just relegated to working in safety.  In those times of deep discussion with fellow workers, or spouses, or close acquaintances we have all hit the wall of ‘I am sick and tired of being a servant.’

Sure enough my papa had some sage advice for this attitude issue we all get a chance to face.  So here’s how his lesson in life about service goes; “Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy on this earth.”  We all need to learn how to serve.  In my case the teaching has taken a long time and I guess on occasion I still struggle with paying the rent as others collect my dues. So just get over it?  Rather, just get used to it on the job, with the family, with people in need.  Being a willing servant is a far better part of being who you are than kicking against the goads life seems to frequently bring your way. 

The Doc  

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 

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