Monday, January 27, 2014

Rapid Improvement Workshops – Delivering and exceeding the VPP purpose

The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) states its purpose is to help “management, labor and OSHA to work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement.”

The Caterpillar Safety Perception Survey provides statistically valid safety culture data, which is then analyzed by a consultant. From the data, problem areas are identified and can be selected by a Safety Steering Team as an improvement initiative to be applied in a Rapid Improvement Workshop (RIW).  The RIW implements a continuous improvement process specifically focused on the proactive engagement of management, supervision and front-line workers to analyze the root causes of and eliminate the possibility of incidents throughout the workplace.  Additionally, we help customers tackle safety culture issues that both include and go beyond hazard analysis and similar components of VPP.  The VPP approach has two significant levels of achievement: Star – where injury rates are below industry average, and Merit – where the company strives to achieve Star status within three years.

With the exception of not bringing OSHA personnel into our process, we have been able to deliver and exceed the VPP purpose.  By using the Caterpillar RIW approach, our customers have engaged all levels of the organization to work towards the objective of achieving below-average injury and illness rates within the industry in less than three years.   To read about our customers’ successes with this approach, visit

The Doc

Monday, January 20, 2014

Enigma – Establishing an effective near-miss process

Near-miss reporting is a well-known practice in safety that seems simple and yet many organizations fail to sustain the process.  Near miss has such a simple path: you see something that is not correct, you fix the issue, you report the results, you get better.  Initially, near miss has hype in awareness and employee involvement, then all too soon the system languishes and another good safety concept that should help reduce injuries fails, and the organization regresses to a safety culture of reacting to injuries.
My experiences with effective near-miss processes are that they:
  • Deliver front line employee involvement in risk assessment and risk resolution which solves countless problems that could lead to injuries or operations difficulties
  • Break down barriers that exist between management and labor working together to solve a myriad of issues
  • Create a recognition system focused on eliminating upstream problems that deliver unwanted downstream incidents
These are all good outcomes that make the efforts needed to resolve near- miss system problems very worthwhile.  As with other fundamental safety processes that don’t seem to work well enough, there needs to be a desire to do the work necessary to fix the systemic difficulties.  A status quo culture goes nowhere; there is a need for enough dissatisfaction to begin the improvement process.  This is the purpose of the upcoming January 22 webinar on near- miss reporting.  The webinar will present both classical and novel information and solutions on:
  • What are good definitions of near miss that help move an organization forward?
  • Why is there such difficulty getting near- miss processes to work in the long-term?
  • How organizations have successfully solved these near- miss issues
  • What kind of reporting forms and solution processes have worked well in the field
  • Where and how does performance feedback fit in with near miss?
  • How does management engage with near miss?
The outcome of an hour long webinar is not the solution to delivering near- miss process excellence.  However, it is intended to be enough to help you and your organization understand how to emerge from near- miss status quo to a safety culture that identifies incorrect issues, fixes them and relentlessly moves on to a zero- incident safety culture.  Please join us for our January 22 webinar on near- miss reporting. Register at

The Doc 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) – Medical technology and safety

The medical technology advancements that have occurred in the last few decades are nothing short of astounding.  Many surgeries and treatments that used to require extensive hospital stays are now performed in a doctor’s office, and the patient is back at home within hours.   A few of the amazing medical applications include: scar removal through plastic surgery, titanium bone replacements, tape replacing sutures, and stents taking the place of vein removal and relocation.

Recently, I partnered with an electrical utility company as they worked on improving their injury rate, which was already better than average.  I admire those who never settle and are constantly striving to involve and engage their hourly and salaried employees in the quest for zero.  In separate training sessions, I met and spoke with two different senior linemen who had been at the top of their trade.   Both linemen were well respected and had high confidence in their skill and experience. Both had fallen from a 40 or more foot tower and survived. Both received excellent medical treatment, successfully recuperated, and continue to climb towers.  Despite the advancements in medical technology, the impact of this fall – broken back, numb hands, and arthritis - remains a part of their current and future lives.

In a conversation during one of the training breaks, one of those linemen provided serious insight I’d like to leave with you; no matter what the medical technology applied to you the OEM body parts, their function and their feel were all significantly better than the aftermarket manufacturer medical technology the linemen now had to live with.  Perhaps you can share this with your people to help them realize their personal need for taking no shortcuts of convenience no matter what their individual skills and experience.

The Doc   

Monday, January 6, 2014

Conclusions – Personal Risk Assessment

I have enjoyed this series on what seems to be, in my opinion, an important fourth pillar of safety performance:

1. Regulations that set the basics in safely reacting to the conditions we face in the work place
2. Accountabilities for personnel at all levels and throughout the organization for engaging in what they can do to prevent injuries
3. Error proofing the safety processes that make a difference by engaging our people in a continuous improvement team safety culture
4. Personal Risk Assessment that leads to a safety culture for all personnel who as a result just doesn’t take risks

The work Dave Fennell of Exxon Imperial Oil Canada has done on this topic has definitely forced me to consider a whole different outlook on personal and corporate safety reality. We started with three common threads to analyzing personal risk which all of us must consider:

1. Recognizing the risk
2. Understanding why it is a hazard
3. Identifying your personal risk tolerance when we face the reality of what we are about to do

In turn, this lead to a series of ten common personal risks and what we and our work group personnel should do when faced with these deadly 10 safety risk realities:

1. Overestimating our capabilities
2. Familiarity with the task
3. Seriousness of the potential outcomes
4. Voluntary actions
5. Personal experience
6. Cost of non-compliance
7. Confidence in the equipment
8. Confidence in protection
9. Potential profit and gain
10. Role models accepting risk

Each of these personal risk topics had suggestions on how to reduce the risks we and our people experience on a daily basis. As an example, consider the “stop and think” process/card, which when used on a regular basis causes us to consider the risks, how serious they could be, what we can personally do about them and more. This is a practical tool set I now carry with me wherever I go. Part of the real power of this simple tool is delivered when you and your personnel from across the organization continue to reinforce its use by your people just as a part of being alive, like eating or breathing. The desire is to create a personal risk assessment culture which lives as “Just the way we do things around here on and off the job.”

If you are to deliver this kind of culture you and your people will have to:
• Study the above mentioned personal risks and their tool sets
• Customize them to your organization’s reality
• Train and continually reinforce personal risk assessment with appropriate action accountabilities as your organization’s safety culture reality

As with this series we have engaged in over the last few weeks there is much more to developing this kind of safety culture than can be delivered in a short blog article. If you would like to engage in greater depth please contact me. This is a great tool set I believe can make a huge difference in your safety performance on and off the job.

The Doc

Connect With Us

Bookmark and Share
/////////////Google analytics tracking script//////////////// /////////////END -- Google analytics tracking script////////////////