SAFETY PERSPECTIVES

Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Esteban is the Director of Safety Solutions at Select International. He manages the development and implementation of all safety solutions and services, which address some of the critical challenges faced by organizations today in workplace safety.
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Recent Posts

How Gray Areas in Your Safety Policies Affect Employee Safety

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Does your company have any safety policies or procedures that are somewhat unclear or ambiguous? Are there certain safety rules that are interpreted somewhat differently depending on the situation, or who you talk to? If so, you probably have some safety policies that have “gray areas” and you’re certainly not alone. Many safety professionals and employees I talk to in different industries deal with this and it can be challenging.


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4 Characteristics to Help Create a Best-In-Class Safety Culture

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

I was talking with a VP from a U.S. power and utility provider yesterday and he raised an interesting question during our call. He said “Our goal is to be the safest energy provider in the country. But, what I’m wrestling with is, what exactly does that look like?” If you worked with this company and spent time with their leaders for just a few hours, you’d understand that this goal is probably not unrealistic at all. They have several sites that have not had a recordable injury in over a year. Their total recordable incident rate (TRIR) is below 1.0, which is less than half the industry average of 2.2 (based on 2015 BLS data), and they have a very comprehensive safety management system in place with all the things you would expect to see – well defined safety policies and procedures, JHAs, near miss reporting, and solid training. They recently joined the VPPPA program as well.


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The Next Step to Improving an Already Strong Safety Culture

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

I was recently doing some development training for a global manufacturing company with a large presence here in North America. Overall, this organization has a great safety culture and has a pretty comprehensive safety management system. Not surprisingly, their TRIR (Total Recordable Incidence Rate) is currently below 1.0. However, they are actively looking for steps to get to 0.5 or lower and take the next step in terms of their safety journey.

In preparation for my training, I was reviewing some of their incident reports from the past year and noticed a similar trend. Regardless of the department where it occurred, the nature of the event, or the employee’s experience level, none of the injuries were due to any safety rule violations. In addition, they all tended to occur on tasks that were rare or unexpected. In some of the incidents, investigations revealed that there were actually no documented procedures for how to safely complete one of the steps in the process because it was rare or had such little risk associated with it. Simply put, these were not simple, garden variety safety incidents. They were more complex, and had various potential precursors related to anything from ergonomics to training to equipment maintenance.


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4 Simple Safety Behaviors That Put You at Risk on Ladders

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Every year, falls from height are a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries, according to OSHA statistics. A large percentage of these falls are from ladders, which are so common on worksites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that over 40% of fatal workplace falls involve ladders, and in the Construction industry, this number goes all the way up to 80%.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that ladder safety is a frequent and critical topic for safety professionals in any industry. From the type of ladder, to proper placement and usage, there are various aspects to consider. So if there is so much information out there about ladder safety, why are there still so many ladder-related injuries?


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3 Reasons Why Contractors Often Fail at Safety

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

A few years ago I was touring a coal mine in Australia as part of a project to help improve employee safety. We were just about to wrap up our tour when a small truck sped past us on the dirt road, leaving us in a large, billowing cloud of dust. I couldn’t help but comment to the Mine Superintendent, who was our tour guide, “Wow – seemed like he was going pretty fast, huh?” He immediately responded, “Yeah, that’s that (expletive) contractor again. The speed limit is 40 km per hour on this road! We’ve already talked to them twice about that.”


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What Are the Traits of Proactive and Reactive Safety Leaders?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

If your workplace has ever experienced a serious injury, then you may be familiar with the following types of questions:

  • How could this happen?

  • Why weren’t we aware of that situation?

  • Why wasn’t that fixed a long time ago?

  • What was the employee thinking?

  • Why didn’t anyone say anything?

The list could go on and on. Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback,” second guessing decisions and actions after the fact. We hear a lot these days about needing to be more proactive when it comes to safety, but it’s often easier said than done. Why? Because people are busy, plans change, and there are always new potential risks that can emerge in our workplace. This is just the reality of the modern-day work environment, and these days, leaders are being asked to do more and more, with safety becoming an increasingly large part of that.


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The 80/20 Rule in Safety – a Few People, a Lot of Incidents

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

You’ve probably heard of the "80/20 Rule" many times before, or at the very least, you’re familiar with the concept. The 80/20 Rule refers to Pareto’s Principle, or Pareto’s Law. This is basically the observation that about 80% of outcomes or results are attributable to about 20% of inputs or activities.

It's named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who developed a theory and formula which described that that twenty percent of the people in Italy owned eighty percent of the wealth. Following this, Dr. Joseph M. Juran attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto in the 1940’s and called it Pareto's Principle. It has since been applied to many fields of study, including economics, business, science, and sports.

Perhaps you have experienced this in different areas of your work or personal life, where a few things, or people, lead to the majority of outcomes (whether positive or negative). For example, have you ever felt like:


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4 Ways Your SafetyDNA Impacts Serious Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs) Risk

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Serious injuries and fatalities, commonly referred to as SIFs, are the types of incidents that can cause the most harm. SIF incidents commonly lead to life-altering injuries, loss of life, and catastrophic events with multiple deaths. It’s no wonder that safety professionals and researchers have been increasing their focus on how to identify events that lead to SIFs, and how to prevent these events from occurring.

Research over the past decade has looked at various types of precursors, and systematic processes that can help prevent SIFs proactively. Experts typically recommend identifying SIF precursors, heightened education of SIFs, using root cause analysis and implementing various controls. However, research on SIFs is still an emerging field, and there is still much we do not know about the exact types of factors or events that contribute to these events.


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Do These Safety Cringe Factors Keep You Up at Night?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

A few weeks ago I was training some leaders at a manufacturing site when one of the safety managers said something interesting. She stated, “What worries me the most is the safety ‘cringe factors’ we have in the plant.” When I asked her to elaborate more on this she explained that, in her opinion, safety cringe factors are, “All of the existing hazards or risks that keep you up at night – you know they are out there, but they’re not always easy to see or eliminate.”

She brought up a good point – there will always be some safety issues that are hard to pinpoint or hard to resolve, but at any given point they could lead to someone getting hurt. As a safety professional, what are the cringe factors that keep you up at night the most? What are the risks, hazards, or potential situations out there on the floor, or in the field, that can easily go “under the radar” and then catch people by surprise?


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What Is the Johari Window and How Can It Help Improve Your Personal Safety?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

When a friend or a co-worker tells you that you act a certain way, how often do you agree with them? How well do you know your behavior relative to how other people see you? If you are like most people, there are lots of things people can say about you that you admit are true.

But let’s face it - some of us have better self-awareness than others. I bet that right now, you can easily think of someone you know who has no clue that they act a certain way (e.g., forgetful, picky, loud) even though everybody else around them seems to know it. We often refer to these as “blind spots”. These are the things about ourselves that others can see, but we do not.


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