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Entries Tagged as '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).

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Tags: General · Safety Training · Safety & Quality · 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).

 

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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).

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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).

 

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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).

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

The Safety Game Plan

March 11th, 2015 · Comments

Just as a head coach should bring a plan to win each game, leaders of organizations should have a plan to win in safety.  If you truly seek excellence, it is not enough to simply set a goal to win by so many points, or just show up and rely on the native ability of your players.  True leadership involves strategy.  How do you play on your strengths?  How do you adjust for special challenges?  How do you constantly revise your plan based on successes and failures?  How do you motivate and direct your players?

So many safety programs lack true strategies and simply rely on good players, traditional plays, and a little cheerleading.  Leaders stress safety rather than leading it.  They give it lip service and even invest resources in traditional efforts, but they don’t really have a game plan.  They fire poor performers and try to hire better ones, but don’t really have a training program to maximize performance.  All the symptoms of poor coaching apply to safety leadership.  Do you bring a game plan to the table in your organization?

 

 

-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).

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Tags: Performance Management · Leading Safety · Driving Safety · Safety Excellence Strategy · Safety Leadership · Blog Posts

Suppliers and Quality

March 4th, 2015 · Comments

W. Edwards Deming urged organizations to establish relationships with suppliers and stick with them, even when they could save a few pennies by changing to another.  He knew that the reduced price was usually a loss leader and that the changeover would cost more than the savings.  We have not yet learned this lesson in safety.  We farm out services and products to the lowest bidder, assuming the quality is the same and that continuity of provider has no value.  We also assume that a consultant who specializes in one service, or a manufacturer who specializes in a particular product, is superior.  These assumptions are not necessarily so.

The relationship with a provider can make them more valuable than price, product or service.  Someone who really takes the time to understand your business can often tailor to your needs much better than a subject-matter expert who doesn’t know or understand your organization.  The relationship is often what gets you superior support, preferential treatment and customized solutions.  Look for someone who cares for you, not just who gives you the lowest price.  Quit trying to save pennies and concentrate on saving lives.

 

-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).

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Tags: General · Safety Management · Safety & Quality · Performance Management · Random Thoughts · Blog Posts

The Program Mentality

February 25th, 2015 · Comments

In spite of some progress toward strategic thinking, safety efforts remain largely program- or process-minded.  This is kindred thinking to the “more is better” and the “silver bullet” mentality of the past three decades.  Organizations think the new program is going to be the add-on to their existing efforts producing the magic that gets them to zero.  Consultants and trainers answer this demand and produce product-and-process things to sell to organizations.  The chase to fail less this year than last goes on.

The vast majority of organizations we assess do NOT need a new program or process.  In fact, most need to get rid of some of their existing ones rather than add new ones.  More is not better; only better is better, and adding on to failing or falling-short efforts is not the answer.  None of the programs or processes are silver bullets or magic pills.  Once an organization begins to press the limits of programmatic and new-process thinking, the way forward is almost always a strategic approach.  Strategies are more successful at producing reduction rather than simply adding more programs.

 

 

-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).

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

The Temporarily Impossible File

February 18th, 2015 · Comments

Sometimes in safety, it can seem impossible to fix a problem or identify the cause of a rash of accidents, or find the best way to get workers more engaged.  Safety people are problem-solvers, and unsolved problems are a thorn in their side.  It helps to remember that everything is impossible until we figure it out.  It was once considered impossible to split an atom, run a mile in less than four minutes, or even for human beings to fly. 

Many organizations that strive for safety excellence keep a “temporarily impossible” file in which they list issues and problems that have not been addressed or solved.  They pull it out from time to time and review the issues and problems in light of recent changes and advances.  A few each year get removed from the list and out of the file.  The world is full of miraculous possibilities patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

 

 

-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).

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

Winning in the Post-Season

February 11th, 2015 · Comments

Many sports teams who have a good season develop high hopes for a good play-off performance only to be badly disappointed.  It seems that play intensifies in the post-season when only the best teams are left and winning is contingent on more than the basics.  Safety has some similarities:  going from poor performance to better performance comes with the basics and reasonable effort.  But when only a few accidents remain per year, preventing them takes a whole new level of effort.

The biggest mistake in both these scenarios is assuming that the strategy that got you to this point will get you the rest of the way to top.  The problem is that the tools of “bad-to-good” don’t work on “good-to-excellent.”  That game plan and those tools must form the basis of your effort, but winning will take a dose of “above and beyond.”  The last remaining risks aren’t always visible to the naked eye and a whole new level of analysis is needed.  When you get rid of the obvious risks, the next level is less obvious.  When you eliminate the high-probability risks, the remaining ones are lower probability and harder to detect.  Excellence is a whole new game overlaid on the old game.  When you get to the playoffs, develop a new game plan. 

 

-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 · Safety Management · Performance Management · Change Management · Lean Behavior-Based Safety · Accident Causation · Behavior Science · Blog Posts