Monday, September 30, 2013

Personal Risk - The next important safety initiative

The Caterpillar approach to improving safety culture and the resultant injury performance follows our six levels model that has organizations living a culture of correct in the following important areas:
  • Foundational safety regulations compliance.  This level-one focus on fixing the conditions and following the rules is a necessity.

  • Reacting appropriately to what is seen in the workplace. Going beyond observation programs and developing strong, practical processes used by our employees for things like JSAs, near-miss and inspections.  In other words, we fix what we see whether it is a condition or a behavior.

  • Safety accountabilities for all levels of the organization that focus on our people doing value-added activities that reduce the possibility of injuries.

  • Performing diagnostics like a safety perception survey and interviews that give the organization insights as to what the safety concerns and strengths really are, as believed by employees at all levels of the organization.

  • Continuous improvement teams that engage people from all levels in an organization in delivering practical solutions to the issues noticed in the four levels mentioned above.

  • Passionate leadership at all levels of hourly and salaried people who use all the five tool sets mentioned above in a relentless pursuit of safety excellence.
In essence the above approach has three important pillars: fixing the conditions, error-proofing the processes and fulfilling accountabilities throughout the organization.  Recently a fourth pillar has become ever more apparent in the battle to deliver a zero-incident safety culture.  A long-time friend and safety professional from Canada, Dave Fennell of Imperial Oil – Exxon Mobil, has done exceptional work in focusing his organization on personal risk assessment.  Fennell has documented and detailed 10 frequent personal risk assessment faults which can lead directly to higher injury rates in an organization’s safety performance:
  1. Overestimating personal capabilities

  2. Familiarity with the tasks

  3. Seriousness of the potential outcomes

  4. Voluntary activities

  5. Personal experience

  6. Cost of non-compliance

  7. Confidence in the equipment

  8. Confidence in protection and rescue

  9. Potential profit gain

  10. Role models and accepting risk
Over the next few weeks, on this blog site, I will provide some of the details from Dave’s work as well as personal experiences from myself and others in this exciting fourth pillar of safety culture/performance excellence.

The Doc

Monday, September 23, 2013

C.A.R. – Safety acronyms that make a difference in performance

I often use TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) to add humor and make an impact in my safety teaching. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • ROI – Return On Investment

  • FNG – Fantastic New Guy

  • FOG – Fantastic Old Guy

  • RIW – Rapid Improvement Workshop

  • NVA – Non Value Added

  • CDC – Spelling Don’t Count

Laying humor aside, the TLA I have found that truly impacts safety performance is CAR: Conditions, Accountabilities and Results.
  • Conditions are the basic rudiments of safety. All the regulations are written around protecting people from conditions. Requirements for Guarding, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), Confined Space, Fall Protection are all in place because of dangerous conditions often found in the workplace as well as off the job. These are the conditions that must be addressed so people do not step in a dangerous trap that can severely injure them.   If you have not taken care of the level one condition traps you will not have an injury/incident free workplace.

  • Accountabilities are the actions people take to ensure they and others do not get injured. This is an all important proactive part of safety; taking personal responsibility to protect yourselves and others. Safety accountabilities include training but also go way beyond to things like personal risk awareness and assessment, timely near miss resolution, positive recognition for a job done well, continuous improvement teams and lots more. However, just doing more activities and feeling good about doing so is not enough.

  • Results that are value added must occur from all the safety stuff we are doing. Good safety and great safety require considerable amounts of work hours and capital investment. There must be an ROI on the personal and financial resources required to reduce injuries. Safety investment must go way beyond ‘feel good.’  So when we work on developing leading indicators, these indicators must deliver Results for the necessary investments we make in Conditions and Accountabilities. Feel good is not good enough to achieve ZIP (Zero Incident Performance).

The Doc

Monday, September 16, 2013

S.T.A.R.T.™ – Going beyond observation program technology and performance

My guess is just about every safety pro on our planet is aware of observation programs. To me it seems this approach started way back in the 1930s when H. W. Heinrich went to the field and watched safety, and the lack of safety, in action. DuPont added bells and whistles with its STOP™ observation program and others jumped on the band wagon of training people to watch other people in action and then react to what workers did that was safe or not safe. However, the purpose of this blog article is not to launch another of the endless debates on observation programs. Rather it is to provide perspective and introduction to a very different and effective kind of safety technology which has recently been improved and updated.

Some years ago, as the crush of reactive observation program lookalikes was occurring, a small group of safety thought leaders began developing safety culture technology based on proactive safety accountabilities. Cleverly they termed their initiative S.T.A.R.T., (Supervisor Training in Accident Reduction Techniques). As Caterpillar continues to push the envelope of safety performance the company decided to purchase the rights to this globally popular proactive safety technology. In turn this led to an immediate investing of the time, effort and funds necessary to bring in recent safety culture developments. The resultant new and improved Supervisor Training in Accountability and Recognition Techniques (S.T.A.R.T.) includes proactive approaches to: safety accountability, recognition, work cell continuous improvement teams, corporate safety steering teams, and cross functional personnel engagement in all aspects of safety culture excellence. This updated S.T.A.R.T. introduces and provides teaching in the how, why, who and many more aspects of developing and living zero-incident safety cultures. Caterpillar has begun utilizing this safety culture initiative worldwide as part of its replacement to reactive RIF (Recordable Incident Frequency) -based safety cultures, which always seem to plateau in injury and engagement performance.

The Safety Culture World Webinar on September 25 presents both consultant and user experiences in the implementation of a proactive S.T.A.R.T. safety culture. Please join Mike Brodock and Curt Siroky in an interactive discussion about this modernized approach to delivering safety culture excellence. View a preview and register at

The Doc  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Anchovies – Reality facing you

I am sure many of you have watched portions of the various “reality” programs that are so pervasive these days.  The scenes are very well staged with close up video that is oh so perfect.  On rare occasion I have been filmed in interviews and am well aware of the multiple retakes, over the shoulder sequences and of course teleprompter scripting that has the subjects repeating just the right words with just the perfect inflections.  You might guess that I have some amount of cynicism during these so-called reality programs. I am generally asked to shut up or leave the room when reality is portrayed as anything but reality.

And this brings to mind more sage words from my papa when we talked over some long ago reality that was personally bothering me. Of course the personal reality moments do not have retakes, scripts, or teleprompter assistance. If you mess it up in the moment it stays that way forever. Like many of us in this world there have been reality times I just wanted to escape from, and couldn’t. After one of these painful episodes my papa and I sat down at my favorite university pizza parlor restaurant while I poured out my frustration.   The moment was perfect for another of my papa’s advice statements; “Son, reality is the anchovy on the pizza of life.” My return comment went something like “Huh?”

It turns out we all get to face issues that we wish weren’t there. You in the safety profession get to meet with your unwanted anchovies fairly frequently, and you can’t wish them away.  You have to deal with the problems as they present themselves to you. It turns out that my papa and I both were fond of anchovies, though our other family members made sure none of our anchovies made it to their side of the pizza. In life and in our profession we don’t get to be that selective. There are no programmed scripts or retakes when it comes to our safety anchovy realities. In the moment is the time to address the reality difficulties that face us. Reel that anchovy in and get it behind you!

The Doc  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

RIF 2.0 – The endless injury rate debate continues

Recently Gord McDougall, general manager at a large Canadian Caterpillar dealership, chipped in on the use of injury rates and their ability to improve safety performance.

“Mike, I know we have talked about TRIF (Total Recordable Incident Frequency) being a necessary but really ineffective measurement in a high performance safety culture. I’d like to share a couple of thoughts with you:

As I travel our branches and meet with employees, one of the critical imperatives I talk to them about is zero-injury incidents. I speak to TRIF, as a rearward looking metric and often I have to explain exactly what TRIF is. Whether it’s the right path or not, we have chosen a targeted TRIF reduction strategy over time, leading to zero. So for instance our TRIF target for 2013 is 2. When I do the math backwards that means we are ‘targeting’ for 10 injuries. Let’s not debate the fact that setting a target of 10 injuries is insanity. It’s better than TRIF of 2.5 or 3.97 or 4.5 or 5.4 or 7, which is where we have come from. What I have taken to doing is briefly mentioning TRIF then turn that into ‘our injury budget.’ Everyone is familiar with budgeting. Most employees are curious if we ‘made budget’ or not each month. So instead of talking about TRIF I say ‘our injury budget for 2013 is 10.’ I pause, watch the faces contort, then add – ‘Isn’t that insane?’ I have found its one method of personalizing a metric that is only personal if you were one of the injured.

There is one other thing that has me curious. In my opinion, regardless of the personal pain, suffering and inconvenience, our society, for some reason, is accepting of injuries in the workplace – even by those that are injured. For less than permanently disabling injuries, I see people shrug them off as ‘part of the deal.’ Kind of like accepting 10,000 people a year killed by gun violence. Do you see that in your travels?”

Gord, thank you for your thoughts on this. Another recent blog article addresses some of what you mentioned. However, a little more depth on this;  I do think there is safety/injury apathy in the world we live in and people, in general, believe that injuries just happen, they are inevitable. This goes way beyond any kind of gun debate. We have about 50,000 traffic fatalities a year in the United States and there are 500+ homicides a year in Chicago alone. These statistics get little or no press. They are just not spectacular enough for the day-to-day press coverage, whereas a shooting spree gets lots of coverage.

My personal lessons from all this is that we cannot count on any of our governments to solve safety malaise, nor will the press do so, nor will companies in general. The only way to get to a zero-injury/incident culture is for local companies to mount the charge, stay in the game and take responsibility for a relentless pursuit of doing whatever it takes to stay focused on zero. You and your company are doing this and consequently have improved your injury rates dramatically, all without government intervention. The only intervention that works is upper management making safety an active principle and value while engaging all of the company employees in this effort.

Keep up the good work of using an approach that resonates with your organization and thus gets results. Your TRIF coupled with injury budget scenario and tongue-in-cheek reality has impact. It leads to personal actions that make a difference. You and I both agree injury numbers alone do not do this.

The Doc

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