The 3 Critical Requirements for a World Class Safety Culture

The 3 Critical Requirements for a World Class Safety Culture

Number 1 – All Employees Participate in Safety ManagementWhen Behavior Based Safety (BBS) first appeared, it was often referred to as “Employee Driven Safety.” Many consulting companies implemented a process that was completely installed and administered by frontline employees. Although the idea was new to safety professionals, the employee participation movement had begun years earlier with Quality Circles and rapidly matured with additions from the Toyota Production System – referred to as TQM (Total Quality Management).

Although the value of employee participation was presented as an epiphany for Senior Leaders, organizational development professionals had actively promoted the use of human capital to improve quality, productivity, and profitability. The migration of this strategy to safety was just a matter of time. In the beginning, safety had been managed by one or two safety professionals using lagging indicators and crisis to prompt action and the attention of leaders. This is safety management by reaction and is basically indefensible as a strategy for preventing accidents and injuries.

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Performance Enhancing Conversations are Being Implemented with Safety and Quality

Performance Enhancing Conversations are Being Implemented with Safety and Quality

The shelves of America’s largest bookstores are overstocked with new books about leadership. It has become a national preoccupation keeping management consultants, corporate trainers and public workshops on leadership very busy. America is hungry for leaders and there appears to be many different interpretations of what a leader is. There is no consensus about what a leader “is,” and almost nothing about what a leader is supposed to do.

This confusion is created by the large number of leadership theories being promoted by theorists, publications, and consults. Any company seeking to turn its managers into leaders is going to find a consultant or workshop that suits their taste.

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Situational Awareness: Defining It & Enhancing It

Situational Awareness: Defining It & Enhancing It

Has your mind ever wandered while you were driving down the highway? Have you ever been so lost in thought that you drove right past your exit ramp? When I ask people in safety workshops to raise their hand if they ever zoomed past a highway exit because they weren’t paying attention, I typically see 100% of the people raise their hand (and the people who don’t raise their hand were probably not paying attention to the question!)

Do you realize that in this kind of situation, your mind is an obstacle to optimum performance and safety?  We sometimes get so distracted by our thoughts that we miss our cue to exit even when the exit signs and lane markers are in place. The external-world distractions cannot be blamed for that kind of mistake; rather, it’s the internal-world that is the primary cause of this safety problem. Our minds get led away from paying attention to what is happening here-and-now and put us at-risk for neglecting important signals for action.

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Preventing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in Non-Routine Activities

Preventing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in Non-Routine Activities

Safety programs are more successful at reducing minor injuries than serious injuries or fatalities. Safety professionals are turning their attention to this frustrating phenomenon – overall, the rate of recordable injuries is declining, but the rate of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) is essentially flat. Interestingly, organizations that experience SIFs often have low recordable injury rates.

How can this be? One answer is that the causes of SIFs, and the situations in which they occur, are different than those of minor injuries. SIFs occur most often during Non-Routine Activities. Non-Routine activities are potentially dangerous activities that are performed infrequently, such as working in confined space, working with high voltage, working at heights, moving heavy objects, performing maintenance during shutdowns, or retooling.

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Three Things You Can Do Now to Stay Safe at Work

Three Things You Can Do Now to Stay Safe at Work

Most companies try to keep you safe. Safety training, protective equipment, guards, rules and regulations – all devoted to protecting you from injury. Then there are safety initiatives like Behavior Based Safety; a great process for helping you manage what you and your coworkers do on the job to stay safe.

What none of these worthy, preventive activities do is manage what’s going on in your head; only you can do that. What you are thinking and feeling are private events that only you have access to. Unfortunately, most people do not purposefully manage what they are thinking and feeling. It just happens and they roll with it.

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Positive Influence Requires Positive Interactions: Part 3

Positive Influence Requires Positive Interactions: Part 3
Interpersonal Skills Training

A question that looms large is whether leaders, managers, and supervisors can be trained to be interpersonally effective.  Interpersonal skills training has been implemented by enlightened human resource and training departments for many decades.

Although an abundance of training has been delivered, the trained skills were perceived to be elective rather than mandatory. Few companies have codified interpersonal effectiveness as a condition of employment. It is seldom measured, tracked, and used as a basis for decisions about pay raises, promotion, and employment or used in recruiting and hiring practices.

Society and People ValueAmerica was founded by individuals who sought to escape the unfair practices of those in power. Today's culture views oppression of the powerless by the powerful as an evil.  We seek to correct abuses of power, prejudice, and disrespect. Organizations are becoming increasingly mindful of their social responsibilities and their public image. They are taking pains to advertise the benefits and perks they provide to their employees - recognizing that the public is aware of a financial relationship between employee welfare and treatment and sustaining organizational profitability. Yet an awareness of the public's disapproval of employee mistreatment has not become the foundation for influencing  management's behavior with subordinates. In most organizations, there is no accountability system in place to monitor respectful and emotionally mature treatment of employees. The public  finds out about employee dissatisfaction by informal communication channels - at the super market and at back yard barbecues. There are now websites that collect and present rating systems for companies as employers. These websites allow direct quotes from employees about working conditions and supervisory behavior. How an organization treats its employees, is now quite visible.The SolutionEstablishing People Value as a corporate value requires a few simple steps.Including language that describes the importance of individual respect and dignity on all   documents that define the organization,  its core principles and practices.Provide a workshop event that reviews many of the issues mentioned here and the systems that will monitor and maintain management and organizational practices and align them with the value of people.Align all Performance Management systems with behavior and practices as defined in #1.  Align performance evaluations, promotions, bonuses, hiring, recruiting and performance metrics with People Value.Create a leadership agenda around establishing and supporting People Value in their conversations, presentations, and performance discussions. The things leaders talk about the most are the things people attend to the most.There are many organizational performance factors that can be linked to the state's of mind created by abusive and bullying manager behavior. Safety is one of the most obvious. Employees who are emotional because of unfair or disrespectful treatment are distractible and have a diminished ability to maintain  focus and vigilance - making them vulnerable to hazards and risky behavior. Employees who are angry and resentful because they have been talked to disrespectfully are much less likely to exhibit discretionary. More importantly, even average levels of performance are likely to move below historical levels. Employees who interface with customers are less likely to behave in sensitive and mature ways while handling the sale process or responding to product issues and complaints. Having a People Value system in place does not mean that you change your disciplinary practices or that you ignore poor performance. It means that when these issues are addressed they are handled in a mature, respectful manner. Politeness and consideration are important when providing negative feedback and when disciplining or severing an employee. ConclusionIn spite of the progress we have made in recognizing the importance of employees as valuable assets, there is still a culture of bullying and disrespect evident in business and industry. A recent article in USA Today,  entitled "Bullying doctors endanger patients by distracting colleagues from work," underscores the existence of dysfunctional management styles at every level in our organizations. Until our senior leaders are prepared to promote People as a Value, they will continue to reap the performance deficiencies created by the absence of that value.
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