Safety Culture Excellence®

Safety Culture Excellence® header image 1

Entries Tagged as 'Blog Posts'

De-mystifying Safety

May 20th, 2015 · Comments

It is amazing how many workers view safety as a form of Voodoo.  They know they can do a job hundreds of times accident-free, then suddenly get injured.  What is the difference, and how can you prevent such random events? 

To begin de-mystifying safety, you must first define it.  Safety has three parts:  1. Identifying and recognizing risks, 2. Addressing risks through conditional changes or behavioral precautions, and 3. Developing consistency in risk control.  In short, workers have to know what can hurt them, know how to keep these things from hurting them, and consistently do those things.

Internalizing such a definition tends to take the mysticism out of safety.  Each time an accident happens, workers analyze which of the three steps didn’t happen, and understand the causation of accidents.  There is no Voodoo, only cause-and-effect.

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Accident Causation · Blog Posts

Self-Awareness: The Short-Cut to Greatness

May 13th, 2015 · Comments

Since the beginning of time, successful people around the world have shared similar personality characteristics.

Martin Luther King inspired a movement with his ability to instill emotion in his fellow people. Winston Churchill made a war-torn nation stand up with confidence and fight a seemingly unstoppable enemy. Mahatma Ghandi used civil disobedience to change the world for Indians, at home and in South Africa. Steve Jobs inspired a technological revolution with creativity and an uncanny knack for capturing an audience.

Behavioral science will tell you that these great people had specific personality characteristics that led them to behave in the way they did. Research into psychology and personality will provide evidence that they were great because they were born great.

But what about the rest of us?

Chances are, you may consider yourself a bit more “ordinary” than the leaders of history. However, you have the potential to achieve your own personal greatness.

Through self-awareness, we can learn how to interrupt our natural default behaviors that keep us from behaving in a way that is productive, efficient, and safe. By taking control of our own self-awareness and truly understanding who we are underneath it all, we can achieve our own greatness in our own lives. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.

Take one of my friends for instance. He was not a social person by birth; he has consciously developed the skills of communication and education to a point that those who meet him would describe him as a talkative and very pleasant person. Little do they know that he exerts a significant amount of energy in social situations - far less than people like him who naturally derives great pleasure from social interaction.

How did he do it? Through a heightened sense of self-awareness.

If my friend recognized that he was uncomfortable in a situation, he would remind himself of why it’s important that he develops these skills. In times of stress or confusion, when his natural default personality was at its strongest, he learned to be in control, behave in the way he wanted to, and ignore his sometimes risky gut reactions.

You too can rise to new heights by first learning why you act the way you do. Through this self-reflection you can leverage your innate strengths to improve your decision making and behavior both at work and at home.

This has been a guest contribution by Greg Ford.


greg-ford-headshot-100x100.pngGreg is the co-founder and CEO of TalentClick Workforce Solutions and an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Greg holds a degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Workplace Learning. He is the co-author of the safety book “Before It Happens” and has spoken at conferences across North America.

You can discover the power of Safety Self-Awareness with a free 30 day unlimited subscription of TalentClick’s full suite of safety solutions, including self-study, online training, and personalized coaching by going to http://www.talentclick.com/gb-trial/.

Tags: General · Change Management · Blog Posts

Humans are Risk Takers

May 6th, 2015 · Comments

Human nature involves risk taking; every human takes calculated risks on a daily basis.  Safety is about removing risks, and thus competes with human nature.  We can address this by trying to change human nature or by increasing the capacity to calculate risks more accurately. Very few people know even the approximate probability of the risks they take or which risks are more likely to result in an accidental injury. 

Organizations should analyze their accident data, not by body part most injured or injury category most common, but by which precaution has the potential to prevent the most injuries.  This data should be methodically shared with every employee to shape their perceptions of risks and focus their safety activities.  If this does not happen, individual perceptions of risks will vary by personal experience and knowledge of accident data, and will not result in maximum focus and directed effort.

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Special Topics · Blog Posts

Peeling the Onion: Solving Safety Problems One Layer at a Time

April 29th, 2015 · Comments

During a safety observation, workers were observed using the wrong tool for a job, which created a risk.  When a safety committee saw the report, they petitioned management to buy the proper tool for the work station.  The committee member who received the tool took it to the work station and presented it to the worker on shift with an explanation of what had happened and the action taken.  The worker admitted that he really had not been taught what the proper tool was for the job and had used the home-made tool since he began his job.

The next month’s observations reported that workers were still using the wrong tool for the job.  Follow-up revealed that workers on the other shifts had not received the communication and were not aware of the new tool.  The safety committee made sure that every worker was made aware of the proper tool in safety and tool box meetings and felt sure the next month’s data would show the problem solved.

The next month, the observations showed the workers were STILL not using the right tool. Follow-up revealed that workers had formed the habit of using the wrong tool and that the habit was not changed.  The safety committee developed a plan to remind workers and, within the next few months, the problem was truly solved.

Lessons learned: 

•             Safety problems can be multi-layered and require multiple fixes.

•             Solving problems requires follow-up.

•             Influences need to be addressed in order to change the behavior.

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

Tags: General · Safety Observations · Change Management · Behavior Science · Blog Posts

Factor-Finding Failures

April 22nd, 2015 · Comments

When new safety programs or processes are rolled out unsuccessfully, there has almost always been a failure to determine either the factors necessary for success, the factors that can contribute to failure, or some combination of both.  Without a list of the key factors of success and failure, a project launch is a blind affair.  This blindness seems more logical if the project appears to be well constructed and has been successful at other organizations or sites in the same organization.  Sadly, imitation of success is no guarantee of success. 

The reasons for the imitation failing are basically the differences in sites and cultures.  A good fit for one site might be a recipe for disaster at another.  That is why an analysis of success and failure factors is so necessary.  Such an analysis is unique to each culture.  It should include a review of past successes and/or failures and the factors that contributed to those; but it should also include simply asking a representative cross-sample of people what they think of the project and what it would take to make it work.  Good implementers and change agents have usually learned a lot about such analysis, but can almost always be more thorough if they simply list critical factors to success and failure, and address them in their implementations.

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

 

Tags: General · Safety Management · Change Management · Safety Leadership · Blog Posts

How OSHA Damaged Safety Training

April 15th, 2015 · Comments

When OSHA set quantity requirements for annual refresher training without setting stringent quality requirements, safety training began a never-ending downward spiral.  The vast majority of ALL safety training, OSHA required and otherwise, is low-quality training that has little to no impact on performance in the workplace.  This was certainly not the intention or the fault of OSHA, but they started the movement and have yet to do anything to stop it.

 

After interviewing tens of thousands of workers, we seldom find any who truly value safety training.  There are exceptions, and some are quite innovative and effective; but they are in the minority.  Most safety training is boring and repetitious.  It is to be endured rather than relished.  It is demotivating and sometimes even demeaning. 

 

But this is not a characteristic of training in general; only of safety training.  It does not have to be so.  Safety training can be stimulating and thought expanding.  It can establish focus and help to address specific issues.  It can build effective cultures and foster teamwork.  Often, the amount of effort and resources needed to turn boring training into dynamic training is well worth the effort.  Organizations should seek to maximize the impact of their safety training rather than just keeping the organization in minimum regulatory compliance.

 

 

 

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

 

 

For more insights, visit 

 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

 

 

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Safety Training · Performance Management · Blog Posts

Training vs. Education

April 8th, 2015 · Comments

More and more organizations are using computer-based training (CBT) modules.  Most started using them for OSHA-required yearly refresher training.  The CBT approach had some advantages:  workers could attend individually rather than in a classroom with multiple students and an instructor; the individual training approach caused less disruption of business activities than a classroom approach; the training was self-paced so everyone could move through the materials at their own pace; the modules could include testing for knowledge levels; and the CBT could keep current rosters of who had completed the various modules.

Then organizations expanded the use of CBT into more questionable areas.  Along this path, someone forgot that CBT is education; not training.  You can impart information via computer but you cannot build manual skills.  Relying on CBT to teach manual job skills or even basics such as fire-extinguisher use is only a partial approach.  Students end up having knowledge without skills.  If the CBTs are followed up with on-the-job training or classroom simulations, the knowledge can begin to be translated into skills.  Without such follow-up, CBTs can simply create a false sense of competence that can, and has, resulted in serious safety incidents.

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

 

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Safety Management · Safety Training · Change Management · Behavior Science · Blog Posts

Probability: Group Experience

April 1st, 2015 · Comments

A worker using the wrong tool for a job injures his hand.  Another worker has used the same wrong tool numerous times with no injury.  One worker retires having used this tool his whole career with no injury and another retiree has had three injuries related to using that tool.  Each experience is different, and thus, each perception of the risk is different.  Some think the practice is dangerous and some think it is not.  Who is right and who is wrong?

We express a range of experience mathematically by calculating probability.  With enough data points we can establish a pattern to this risk that may not be obvious to anyone who is a data point, but is accurately describing the experience of the large group.  Sharing the findings of a probability study can actually change and norm the perceptions formed by differing experiences within the group.  This new perception can more accurately describe the risk and encourage taking precautions against the risk even among those whose experience hasn’t detected the possibility of accidental injury.  Perceptions, if not thus managed, will vary by experience.  Managing the accuracy of perceptions is a powerful tool for improving safety performance that many organizations have not utilized.

 

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Behavior Based Safety · Employee Involvement · Safety Communication · Change Management · Lean Behavior-Based Safety · Behaviour-Based Safety · Accident Causation · Behavior Science · Blog Posts

Safety vs. Liability

March 25th, 2015 · Comments

I see more and more safety procedures written by corporate attorneys and their staff.  While legal exposure is a real business consideration that deserves attention, so is safety.  If the procedures are written in language the average worker can’t understand, or are too complex to remember, they have little chance of actually being implemented.  What corporate attorneys need to understand is that a written procedure is not an insurance policy against government regulators, especially if the procedure doesn’t become common practice.  Stiff fines have been given to organizations with excellent documentation but common practice that doesn’t match.  The people in the field need to walk the talk or the exposure is still there.

Sometimes all that is needed is a shorter version of the procedure aimed at worker terminology and mapped out into an implementation plan.  The legal document can still be in place as the organizational goal, while the shorter document is a practical attempt to turn the goal into reality in the workplace.  I have found regulators much more understanding of performance that falls short of the ideal if there is a plan in place to make it happen.  Attorneys: work with the safety staff to make procedures practical and applicable as well as liability limiting.

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

 

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Safety Management · Change Management · Random Thoughts · Blog Posts

Juggling Multiple Priorities

March 18th, 2015 · Comments

One day during my management career, I got visited by four specialists from corporate, then by my regional manager.  The safety, quality, logistics and IT specialists in sequence told me about all their new initiatives that would require my support, understanding, and staffing.  Then my boss showed up and asked me if I had any questions.  I simply asked him, “While I am doing all these programs would you like to try to continue to do business as well?”

Almost all managers must juggle a number of priorities without dropping any.  Safety should not be one of these!  Safety is not something else you do; it is the WAY you do everything.  It is not a conflicting priority with anything else if you integrate it into the flow of work and the fabric of culture.  Yes, safety meetings take time, but not if they are simply a part of shift start-up meetings or tool-box meetings, which you have anyway.  Yes, safety training takes time, but workers attend training of many kinds, none of which is expendable.  The best safety is completely imbedded into the workflow and not perceived as separable or competing.  If you think this is not possible, seek out some of the excellent organizations that have made it happen.

 

-Terry L. Mathis

 

For more insights, visit 

www.ProActSafety.com

 

Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS three consecutive times. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence (2013, WILEY).

1sceapp.jpg

Tags: General · Safety Management · Organizational Safety Culture · Blog Posts