These words keep surfacing at safety conferences, speeches, articles and conversations and paint a picture of the issues and trends important to the profession here in 2014: Value– as in, “What’s the value of having a safety professional around here?”
A blog follower recently asked: Is there anything from Caterpillar Safety Services outlining the positive things or actions that we can expect to see in facilities with “world-class” responses to the survey questions for each of the survey process elements? Back in the days of the survey development one of the team members, Dr. Dan Petersen, defined world-class safety as an organization that was within the best 10 percent of his customers at that point in time.
I recently received the following inquiry: “We're getting ready to perform safety coaching sessions with some of our frequently injured employees. Do you know of anyone who might have a script to outline the dialogue?”
Recognition for doing things correctly seems to be a lost art. Over the years, I have assessed perception surveys for hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of employees. As I tally the results, recognition for performance of doing things right is the lowest scoring safety management process. Interestingly, discipline (i.e., correcting people when they do something wrong) scores as the sixth lowest of the 21 safety management processes measured by the Caterpillar Safety Services statistically validated survey.
Senior leadership is an easy target for most any complaint. Politicians, hourly workers, organized labor, front-line supervision and middle management all seem to blame ‘rich, uncaring upper management.’
Last month, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Dr. David Michaels held an OSHA Employees All-Hands Meeting. OSHA employees who were not able to attend the meeting in person were able to participate through the web.
Virtually all catastrophic events in man-made systems are related to technical failures made possible by organizational failures. This explains why catastrophic events continue to occur despite widespread implementation of sophisticated technical and management systems. Deepwater Horizon and Texas City disasters are examples of events caused by weak organizational safety—the context within which technical and management systems function.
Positive thinking is deeply embedded in American culture, and in American business culture. I’ve worked with enough magazine publishers and advertising sales reps who would be seriously non-productive if not for their “can do, will do” spirit. But here is a counter-intuitive thought: Psychotherapist Albert Ellis, who died in 2007, was a pioneer of the negative path, and he once said the best way to address an uncertain future is to focus on the worst that can happen, instead of the best-case scenario.
The U.S. Department of Energy still has work to do to improve its own safety culture. That’s the upshot of a recent study on the federal agency that heads environmental cleanup of nuclear waste across the country, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.