Building a safety culture - From the top down

Building Safety Culture from the Top

“Safety is, without doubt, the most crucial investment we can make, and the question is not what its costs us, but what it saves” - Robert Mckee, Former Chairman of Conoco Phillips, Senior Vice President of Du Pont. 

OSHA has set the ratio of indirect cost to direct cost of accidents at a range of 20:1 to 1:1 depending on the circumstances. 

The direct include: Medical Costs, Lost Wages 

Indirect Costs: Lost production, rehiring, retraining, fines, litigation costs, lost wages, poor morale. 

One of the repeating factors in avoiding accidents is building a safety culture which engages all
employees. The fact remains that despite the automation of a process, the usage of ‘new’ and smart technology driving safety across a business and improving standards needs to be lead by humans. 

If the improvement of business and safety processes is to take root in a business then management must review the way they engage with the operational safe. 

To often the management can project a vision for the ‘well-being’ of the company which has little relation to the reality on the ground. To often the management of a company agree the financial targets for the company pushing forward projects at a speed which do not take into account the due focus and process alignment for safety and productivity within the business.

We know that a culture of safety starts at the top! If management are not interested in improving the analysis of processes and the operational management within the company then they can not expect more junior managers and members of staff to take responsibility. If senior management project an idea that performance is only judged on short-term project delivery and financial reward then safety gets relegated to a process of non-priority. 

The leading companies implement performance measurement systems which collect data quickly and effectively across the organisation which drives action plans accordingly. Regular operations meetings review the company wide performance with the results being discussed at the senior management level of the company. 

The building of a successful safety culture is a partnership between employees and the management of an organisation. Together with regular process review and and clear communication of goals and acceptable levels of awareness and a company can improve its performance, efficiency and return on investment over a short period of time. 

Contact today for a demonstration of Emex Operations Managment Software which will support your company build a profitable safety culture click here 

Every 15 seconds, 153 workers have a work-related accident. Understanding risk can reduce this figure.

Deepwater Horizon - Gulf of Mexico
No organisation sets out to have failures. This week it was announced that BP will pay $175 million the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf of Mexico. The board of BP did not want this disaster to happen the same way as a small construction company doe not want to see their employees die on the job. The fact remains that every day, 6,300 people die around the world in occupational accidents or from work-related disease — more than 2.3m deaths per year, according to the International Labour Organisation. 

With focus and employing the right tools, focusing on education and behaviour change organisations can turn the trend around. The fact remains there is no easy way to improve. Health and Safety is really about process management. It is about understanding the step by step activities that change raw materials into product or create services for which a company sell. 

What we see more and more each year is that companies who are focused on understanding their processes have less accidents - many have none. Why is this? Because the individual acts of the employees are influenced by the operational environment through eleven basic risk factors: 

1. Design - are installations and working processes logical and practical

2. Tools/Equipment - Are they suitable and available? 

3. Maintenance - is it planned, is it preventative, is it delivered

4. Housekeeping - is workplace clean, ordered with a lean process 

5. External factors to the business - what risks do physical conditions create (Cold, Heat, Darkness, boredom, Abuse)

6. Procedures - Are they defined and clear, are they followed, are they understood

7. Training - Is there a schedule and is learning put into practice

8. Communication - do the work force comprehend the process risks and their responsibilities 

9. Incompatible Goals - does the company understand the ‘trade offs’ - the demand for speed can see a reduction in safety, budget cuts which impact training and EHS increase the risk of accidents and incidents

10. Organisation structure - focusing on the effective coordination between the departments as opposed to one person collecting data on an excel sheet is critical
When organisations elevate occupational health and safety to the level of a core organisational value, they must inevitably commit investment in time, process and employing the right tool. The return on the investment is gained from a reduction in down time, reduction of missed days due to illness and the avoidance of death and injury within the workforce.

US National Safety Council Report a 57% increase in workplace ‘accidents’

Preventable injuries, commonly known as 'accidents', claimed 136,053 lives in 2014 – a 57 percent increase since 1992, when deaths from preventable injuries were as low as they had been in 68 years. Preventable injuries are now the fourth leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory disease.

In many industrial settings, employees find them selves torn between compliance with safety rules and the support of production quotas and targets for the business. With 65% of companies that want to comply still collecting data on excel sheets the development of and the provision of health and safety standards is difficult for some companies to deliver. They are caught in a catch 22. They are collecting the data, slowly, and have no practical or quick way to analyse the ‘near misses’ to build a preventative action plan. 
When the list of top seven accidents is reviewed the striking thing is how simple they are to fix and how they should be manageable by the smallest and largest companies alike:  
1. Working at Height 
2. Poor Housekeeping: clutter, unchecked or machinery, blocked exits
3. Electrical extension cords: basic misuse and wiring 
4. Forklifts: production demands leading to mistakes
5. Failure to implement the permit to work process 
6. Chemicals: lack of training and understanding how to work with them and the associated hazards. 
7. Working in confined spaces: which is again a failure to issue a permit to work 
There are several immediate remedies for all employers and companies. First is to review the OSHA standards that are in place then look at more practical aspects. 
What are the personal protective equipment provided, do employees know how and when to us it? Are the correct resources being applied to EHS and what controls are being put in place to each job and individual process? 
If the company is collecting safety data on sheets, forms and excel how actionable is it? Is there a software system in place which can provide quick analysis and an action plan?  
What culture is in place? Is safety everyones responsibility or is it a chore and task that low in the organisation priority? 
Has the safety performance been tied to the wider company goals, the brand value and the mission of the company?