Aggregates Manager Digital Magazine
Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/370990
31 AGGREGATES MANAGER September 2014 SAFETY EXCELLENCE Top management is visibly committed Middle management is actively involved Front-line supervision is performance-focused Employees are actively participating System is flexible to accommodate the culture Safety system is positively perceived by the workforce Six Criteria for Safety Excellence sure. At work, the attitudes, beliefs, and ideas that employees have about safety are mainly shaped by what they see and hear from their direct supervisors and others in management. As an example, consider how employees might interpret the following conversation between a crushing foreman and his crew: "Our construction division was just awarded an emergency bid to repair several sections of road that were taken out by a landslide. The work begins in two weeks, and we have to have 15 tons of material crushed by then. We will need to work extra hard and can't afford to have anything slow us down in order to get this job done. Let's get started right away and make sure to work safely." The above conversation placed sig- nificant emphasis on production and no specific expectations on safety, other than to work safely. What employees heard from their boss was "get the job done." How did the discussion reinforce or influ- ence risky or "bad" behaviors? Let's say the production pressures increase due to a motor going out on a radial stacker and weather delays. Senior leaders come out frequently to ask about production goals, but mention nothing about safety. Keep- ing the plant up and running is the top priority, so rather than locking and tag- ging out conveyors to clean out under tail pulleys and perform routine maintenance tasks, certain shortcuts are taken to save time and keep the plant running. In the end, the crew gets the job done, nobody gets hurt, and they are praised for going the extra mile by management. Through this experience, employees start to establish a belief that certain safety short cuts are acceptable under tight pro- duction deadlines. Another example of nonverbal commu- nication that influences the attitudes and beliefs of employees is when they see their boss or other members of management walking the operation and not wearing the appropriate personal protective equip- ment. The employee takeaway may be, "If it is not important to them, it is not impor- tant to me." The norms of the organization, what is tolerated, influence how employees will work. The unwritten rules that are formed over time through employees' daily inter- actions with their supervisors define the safety culture of the organization. In his book, Organizational Behavior and Man- agement, Petersen said, "It is the culture, not the elements, that determine safety success." In other words, the elements of an organiation's safety program — the policies, procedures, and specific programs like near-miss reporting, job hazard analy- sis, and incident investigation — by them- selves do not determine safety success. You can have an industry best-in-class written safety program, but if your front- line doesn't believe in it and you lack well- defined accountabilities for the completion of the safety activities identified within the program, Petersen would say you're fool- ing yourself. You may have a safety culture, but you won't have a culture of safety. Do you know what the difference is? Through years of research and working with companies throughout the world, Petersen determined that, although there was no one right way to manage safety, there were six criteria common to all orga- nizations that were successful in creating a culture of safety, or in achieving safety excellence. In the months to come, I will describe each of the Six Criteria to Safety Excel- lence (see above), how you can build them into your organization and ultimate- ly realize safety excellence. AM Author's Note: Dr. Dan Petersen passed away in 2007. He was a true safety pioneer who helped countless organizations improve their safety management system, which ulti- mately has resulted in lives saved. I know this personally, as I worked for a large construc- tion and construction materials company that utilized Dr. Petersen's Safety Perception Survey and worked hard to establish his Six Criteria of Safety Excellence throughout the organization. It is not easy work, but if it were, everybody would be doing it. Zach Knoop is a senior safety consultant and project manager for Caterpillar Safety Services. He works with Caterpillar cus- tomers in the aggregates and construction industries to coach leaders, train supervisors, and engage employees in building cultures of safety excellence. He can be reached at Safe- tyServices@cat.com.