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

Is Your Hands-Free Device Making You a Safer Driver? Research Says No

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

We’ve all done it at some point in the past, and my bet is, some of you reading this post still do it fairly often. That’s right – talking on your mobile phone while driving. By now, the research is now pretty clear – driving while talking on the phone significantly decreases attention and increases the risk of vehicle accidents. It has joined alcohol and speeding as the leading factors in fatal and serious vehicle crashes, and it puts you at four times greater risk of a vehicle crash. Yet I am constantly surprised at how many people still believe they can talk on the phone safely while driving because they use a hands-free device.


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Reasons for Trying a Personal Approach to Safety Leadership

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

About a year ago we started working with a manufacturing company – one of their sites had been struggling with high incident rates for the previous couple of years. Their TRIR was significantly higher than the industry norm and they were having a significant issue with slips, trips and falls. When we began working with their leadership team, we realized that they had a great set of dedicated, seasoned supervisors, who had a strong work ethic and wanted to do the right thing. However, there was one problem – they didn’t necessarily have the strongest people skills. While this was apparent immediately upon meeting them, it was later confirmed when they completed a safety leadership assessment which measured their leadership style.


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Differences between External and Internal Factors of Employee Safety [Video]

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

We're publishing our first ever Safety Perspectives vlog today! Esteban Tristan, Ph.D., Director of Safety Solutions at Select International takes a moment to discuss the differences between the external and internal factors of employee safety, and why it's important for organizations to understand and focus on both to reduce at-risk behavior in the workplace.


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Safety Leadership: Do You Walk the Talk?

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Nothing will kill a safety culture like leaders who undermine safety policies, and who fail to be safety role models themselves. I've worked with many companies in all sorts of different industries, and I've heard some crazy stories about unsafe behaviors. I recently heard a particularly alarming story from a warehouse site in a manufacturing company. The EHS manager walked through the warehouse one day and noticed an employee working nearly 20 feet above the floor without any fall protection equipment on. Clearly a safety violation. He immediately instructed the employee to come down and put on a safety harness before he continued any work above 6 feet. The employee came down and indicated he would do this immediately. Problem solved, right?


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Four Tips for Making Your Safety Observations More Impactful

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

How valuable is the information you are currently getting from your behavioral safety observations? Is it worth the time your employees are putting into the process? Safety observations have been a part of everyday life in many organizations for decades, and there are many different schools of thought and opinions about their effectiveness and how they should be done. I work with companies large and small, across multiple industries and I can tell you that for some companies it works wonderfully and truly helps reduce risks, and for others, they simply go through the motions and get very little out of it.


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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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