SAFETY PERSPECTIVES

Managing Employee Safety at Home and Work

Posted by  Guest Blog

One of the clichés in the occupational safety world is that our goal is to ensure that our employees get to go home each day the same way they came. The implication here is that we make them safe in the dangerous workplace until they can get to the safety of their homes. But what if home is not the safest place for them to be?


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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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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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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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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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Why Communication Is Essential to Building a Strong Safety Culture

Posted by  Alissa Parr, Ph.D.

Imagine you were given a project to oversee the building of an offshore oil rig. One that would end up being the deepest in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil rigs are dangerous and demanding workplaces. If you add on the fact that this oil rig would be producing twice as many barrels at four times the speed of most oil rigs, that compounds the potential hazards on the site. The mere probability of injuries and near misses is much higher. I’m sure that working in this environment would give any health and safety manager heartburn. It gives me heartburn just thinking about it!

Well, luckily you don’t have to be in this imaginary situation. Back in 1997, Shell began building a deepwater platform, Ursa. Rick Fox was tasked with overseeing this project. Fox had been in the industry long enough to know that injuries, and unfortunately death at times, are commonplace in these types of environments. However, this norm was unacceptable to him. He knew something needed to change if they were to build and operate the platform safely.


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Does Promoting a Safe Employee Equal Safety Leadership Success?

Posted by  Alissa Parr, Ph.D.

Imagine you have an employee who follows all the rules, is highly detail-oriented, and overall is very
safety-oriented.  This employee has been with the company for 5 years now and has proven to be very effective in his current role and has demonstrated his ability to work safely in many situations.

This employee sounds like the perfect person for promotion into a leadership position, right?  In particular, given his high level of engagement in safety activities, he may be good to guide others to be more safety-oriented.  Well, not so fast…Oftentimes these star employees will be promoted to leadership positions based on their current performance and, once in the role, will not be successful.  In other words, these leaders derail.


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