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Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach
Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach
Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach
Ebook842 pages

Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach

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About this ebook

Developing an Effective Safety Culture implements a simple philosophy, namely that working safely is a cultural issue. An effective safety culture will eventually lead to the desired goal of zero incidents in the work place, and this book will provide an understanding of what is needed to reach this goal. The authors present reference material for all phases of building a safety management system and ultimately developing a safety program that fits the culture.

This volume offers the most comprehensive approach to developing an effective safety culture. Information is easily accessible as the authors move first through, understanding the cost of incidents, then to perspectives and descriptions of management systems, principal management leadership traits, establishing and evaluating goals and objectives, providing visible leadership, and assigning required responsibilities. In addition, you are given the means to systematically identifying hazards and develop your own hazard inventory and control system.

Further information on OSHA requirements for training, behavior-based safety processes, and the development of a job hazard analysis for each task is available as well. Valuable case studies, from the authors' own experience in the industry, are used throughout to demonstrate the concepts presented.

* Provides the tools to rebuild or enhance a desired safety culture
* Allows you to identify a program that will fit your specific application
* Examines different philosophies in relation to safety culture development
Release dateMar 25, 2002
Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach

James Roughton

James Roughton CSP, CRSP, R-CHMM, CET, Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, is an experienced Safety Professional with in-depth knowledge of the use of Social Media to help improve productivity. He is an accomplished speaker, author, and writer who develops and manages his websites providing a resource network for small businesses, http://www.safetycultureplusacademy.com.

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    Book preview

    Developing an Effective Safety Culture - James Roughton



    We believe that the style of writing in this book and the information presented will encourage you to read it from cover to cover. In attempting to reach large numbers of diverse readers, many writers have a tendency to consider only part of their audience, despite the vital importance of the topic. Safety and health are no exception.

    In this case, the readers and the authors engage in risk taking; we hope that it will offer the most comprehensive approach to developing an effective safety culture, and you hope to get something out of it to help build your own successful safety culture. We have tried to provide a book that can be a reference in all phases of building your safety management system (process) and ultimately developing a safety program that supports your safety culture.

    A significant number of incidents are a consequence of our daily actions, habits, and lifestyles. For example, we add to the probability of having an incident every time we get in our car to go to work or run an errand, board an airplane to go on vacation or on a business trip, cross the street, lift a heavy object, etc. The list is endless.

    What you will learn from this book is that people (employees) alter their behavior in response to safety measures, but everyday risk will not change, unless the management system is capable of motivating and allowing employees to alter the amount of risk they are willing to incur.

    As an alternative to the enforcement, educational, and engineering approaches of the past, a systematic, motivational approach to incident prevention is presented in this book. This is an approach that offers employees a reason to reduce incidents and to adopt safer ways of life.

    In Quality Is Free [1], Crosby outlines five points of what the term real quality means, emphasizing the absolutes of quality management. Table 0–1, Comparing Quality to Safety, lists these points. In addition, the authors have related these elements as they would fit into a safety management system.

    Crosby further notes that to eliminate this waste (employees getting hurt), to improve the operation (incidents), to become more efficient, we must concentrate on preventing the defects and errors that plague us.

    Table 0-1 Comparing Quality to Safety

    The defect that is prevented doesn’t need repair, examination, or explanation [1].

    He continues his discussion by stating that the first step is to examine and adopt the attitude of defect prevention (incidents). This attitude is called, symbolically [1], Zero Defects (incidents). Zero Defects is a standard for management, a standard that management can convey to the employees to help them to decide to do the job right the first time (no injuries due to incidents). However, some people still think that you cannot reduce incidents [1].

    Crosby in his book Quality Is Free makes a statement that one author believes is worth repeating to let others think about it. We believe that it puts things in perspective. People are conditioned to believe that error is inevitable. We not only accept error, we anticipate it [1]. It does not bother us to make a few errors, and management plans for these errors to occur. We feel that human beings have a ‘built-in’ error factor [1].

    Think about this. How many companies have you heard of building service (repair) centers as they are designing a new product? We have a tendency to anticipate that the product we are building is going to fail. Do we want this in our management system? This is the same as someone developing safety policies and procedures or guarding machines after an employee gets hurt or planning to have X number of employees get hurt. We need to be smarter in some respects and understand how to build management systems that will sustain themselves. This is what we provide you in this book.

    However, we do not maintain the same standard when it comes to our personal life. If we did, we would resign ourselves to being shortchanged now and then as we cash our paychecks. We would expect hospital nurses to drop a certain percentage of all newborn babies. We would expect to periodically drive to the wrong house. As individuals we do not tolerate these things. Thus we have a double standard, one for ourselves, one for the company [1]. There is a lot to be said about responsibilities and accountabilities. Let’s look at an example. It is a common perception that employees who drive a forklift tend to damage walls, overhead doors, production equipment, etc. in their daily routine. Hence, we spend a lot of money putting barriers up to stop employees from hitting these walls, equipment, etc.

    On a personal side employees would never think about damaging their own property, but do not give it a second thought on an employer’s site. The usual comment is It is just one of those things. Why do you think that there is a difference? In the author’s opinion, people are trained when they grow up to cherish toys, cars, etc. To illustrate this point, one author worked several years in construction with one major customer who was building a new 3 million square foot distribution warehouse. This company spent $300,000 on protective devices for fire equipment, overhead doors, walls, etc. before they started operations. Why do you ask? Think about it. Management has this preconceived notion that the building and equipment would be damaged in a short time after startup. So they would rather spend the money up front—solve the problem, rather than manage the problem. After all this is how managers perceive employees. It is a typical stereotype that we need to deal with all of the time. This is where the culture building should start with each employee on the first day of the job and continue.

    The reason for this is that the family creates a higher performance standard for us than the company does [1].

    Crosby’s Zero Defect concept is based on the fact that two things cause mistakes: lack of knowledge and lack of attention [1]. Lack of knowledge can be measured and attacked by tried and true means. However, attention is a state of mind. It is a preconceived attitude (at-risk behavior) that must be changed by the individual (employee) [1].

    When presented with the challenge of Zero Defects and the encouragement to attempt it, individuals will respond enthusiastically. Remember that Zero Defects is not a motivation method, it is a performance standard. It is not just for production employees, it is for all employees [1].

    Therefore, employees receive their standards from their leaders. Top management must personally direct the Zero Defects program. To gain the benefits of Zero Defects, you must make a personal commitment to improve your management system. You must want it. The first step is to make the attitude of Zero Defects your personal standard [1], and to tell your employees. They will perform to the requirements (standards) given to them.

    As we continue to our quest to develop a safety management system that will support a successful safety culture, we want you to think about what we have just discussed. There are individuals who believe in Zero Incidents (Zero Defects), while others believe it is not possible. It is now time for you to make your decision.


    The following is a summary of various quotes on zero relationship to safety. You should try to understand what is stated and then make your own mind up what you want to accomplish.

    When objectives are set unrealistically high (such as ‘Having zero accidents and incidents on our 47 construction sites this year’) they have little or no positive motivational value. People laugh at them, ignore them, or are demoralized by them. Motivational objectives are attainable objectives (such as ‘Reduce our lost time to accident by at least 30% this fiscal period’) [2].

    Indeed a zero injury goal is fact! We see it every year here at (company name removed), when operating departments go with zero injuries and zero vehicle accidents. I mean none, not just ‘recordable’ cases, or ‘preventable’ vehicle incidents [3]. If you set out not to have an incident, you won’t have one [3].

    Having a ‘zero’ accident goal could be compared to attempting to get to heaven when you die. If your program is honest, sincere, and forthcoming, you may just get there. If not, and you’re just playing a numbers game, you’ll just wind up in a ‘fool’s paradise’ [3].

    Having a zero goal only makes the pressure worse and drives reporting underground. Most safety programs are reward programs which celebrate good safety records with very little or no idea how those records were achieved [3].

    ‘Zero’ is a real goal, not a punishable offense when not reached in a particular time frame [3].

    Fact: Every employer should want zero accidents. Right? Why would anyone want to have an injury goal that is not zero? [3].

    We must strive for zero rates, which seems impossible. But why set other goals that are harder to meet? Set high numbers, you get a high number of injuries. Educate workers to zero rates. Let them know their injuries will not be held against them. Explain the use of injury reports to change or establish new procedures [3].

    Zero is a noble but unattainable goal! We should set challenging injury prevention goals, but zero workplace injuries is a dream [3].

    Zero injuries must be the goal. Accepting injuries to employees as part of business cannot be morally justified. As with any goal, it is the desired outcome, not always the attainable outcome [3].

    Zero injuries must be your goal. Once your mind-set says that some accidents are acceptable, you’ve lost the battle. Then you’ve established the crutch excuse of the ‘unavoidable’ accident. How many accidents are acceptable? One but not two? Ten but not eleven?

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