SAFETY PERSPECTIVES

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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Safety Leadership is a Continuous Process

Posted by  Craig White

A friend of mine who works for a large grocery store chain recently told me about the fallout from a safety incident that occurred in one of its Louisiana stores last year. An hourly-paid employee slipped on a spill while carrying product to a shelf and cracked his skull when he hit the floor, nearly dying from the injury. Thankfully the employee has made a full recovery, but all the local media attention about the incident prompted the company’s top management to implement a new safety program. You might think that this was a good move on the part of the organization to reduce the safety risks in their stores, but what my friend had to say made me think otherwise.


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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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Two Simple Questions that can Improve Your Personal Safety

Posted by  Brian Dishman

In previous blogs, we've discussed how our intuitive system impacts our decision making. Cognitive biases such as the overconfidence effect, ostrich effect, availability heuristic, social proof, and many other heuristics impact decision making and our personal safety. Several blog readers have asked us how to avoid the potential safety negative outcomes of these mental “rules of thumb.”


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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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