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

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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What Can the Cleveland Browns' Failures Teach You about Safety Leadership?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Playing quarterback for the Cleveland Browns is a dangerous occupation. I fear for their personal safety, and I don’t think Browns leadership is providing a safe environment at all for the most important position on the field.

This recent blog presented some interesting data showing that they also allow more sacks per game (over 2.5 per game, on average) and had allowed the fifth most sacks of any team in the league, as of Week 6 of this season. While a few other teams this season have allowed more sacks on their quarterback, interestingly, those quarterbacks seem to stay healthy, whereas Browns quarterbacks have been injured much more frequently. On average, they are injured or are leaving the field once every 9 hits this season. And this trend spans well beyond this season. In fact, the Browns have the unfortunate distinction of being the only NFL team (by far) to have four straight seasons where they start three or more quarterbacks in a season.


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How Valuable Is Your Behavior-Based Safety Process? What One Company Found Out

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Question - if you had to rank the importance of Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) relative to other parts of your safety management system, where would you rank it?

More importantly – where would your company’s employees rank BBS in terms of added value? This is exactly what a global manufacturing company with over 11,000 employees and over $10 billion in annual revenue is doing, and the answers that it got from its leaders were very interesting.

This organization just finished polling over 160 supervisors, managers and EHS professionals across all of their North American operations (over 10 sites) as part of a comprehensive safety leadership training effort. They have had BBS in place across these facilities for nearly 20 years, and have invested extensive money, time and resources into its BBS systems. Clearly, somebody has seen value in it.


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Why Is One Company Paying $213,000 a Day for a Basic Safety Violation?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Could your company currently afford to pay over $213,000 in fines per DAY, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair costs, for a basic safety violation? Well, that’s exactly what is happening right now to Joseph B. Fay Co., a contractor based near Pittsburgh, PA. For those of us who live and work here in the greater Pittsburgh area (our hometown here at Select International), this story is very relevant to us because we are still living with the effects of having a major bridge out of service.

On Friday, September 2nd, the Liberty Bridge, which crosses the Monongahela River and provides a major connection for drivers between downtown and the South Hills, was shut down due to a dangerous fire that damaged a 30-foot long beam supporting the structure of the 90-year old bridge.


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Measuring Safety Risk in the Hiring Process: Research and Best Practices

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

If you are a safety professional, you probably realize the significant time, money, and resources that organizations invest in creating an injury-free workplace. We work with companies of all sizes, and nearly everyone tells us “Safety is our number one priority.” Yet when I ask them whether their company’s current hiring process specifically screens job candidates for safety risk, I often hear “no” or get blank stares.

So why do organizations invest so much effort into creating a safe workplace and then turn around and hire a job applicant who is a high safety risk, is unlikely to follow safety policies, and is likely to be injured (or injure a co-worker) soon after being hired? Why would an organization develop its leaders to create a strong safety culture, only to hire or promote a supervisor who will probably undermine safety and put his/her team at risk of injury just to meet productivity goals? It doesn’t make sense, yet many organizations do just that.


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3 Ways to Make Your Safety Moments More Personal

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Does your company do safety moments? If so, what do you consider to be an effective safety moment? It’s an interesting question, and one that I took a bit for granted until yesterday. Whether it’s at the start of a meeting, a shift, or a conference call, we’ve all likely taken part in some form of a safety moment, where someone briefly talks about a specific topic related to safety. I’ve heard people do safety moments in many different ways, with varying degrees of relevance to the actual work environment, but they all bring us back to the importance of safety in some way.

While it’s always good to focus on safety each day, I wonder how effective and impactful our typical safety moments are. Recently while conducting a safety leadership coaching session with a supervisor at a manufacturing plant, he mentioned that his team does daily safety moments. In our workshop earlier that day, we had discussed the importance of being people-focused and engaging employees on a personal level. After reflecting on that, he shared with me that although his team does safety moments every day, they are hardly ever ‘personal.’ He and his team lead always cover a safety topic that is relevant to the work they are doing that day and the associated hazards. As I listened to some of his examples, I heard all of the typical things that I would expect:


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