Thought Leadership

World class safety cultures – What does it take?

April 2, 2013
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ISHN Guest BlogOriginally posted on Caterpillar Safety Service’s Safety Culture WORLD blog and reposted here with Caterpillar’s permission.

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. 

The best had a total injury frequency of 1.0 – 1.2  and a lost time frequency of 10 percent of that, or about 0.1 based on 200,000 hours of work. Some 20 years later our best customers have total injury frequency rates of 0.4 - 0.7 and go multiple years without a lost time injury no matter which industry or country they operate in. These lower downstream indicators come from accountability and process excellence. And thus I would redefine “world-class safety” as an organization that is continuously improving in safety and is relentless in its efforts to get to zero.

I am really more interested in the organization’s safety culture focus and improvement efforts than in the downstream indicators. 

These organizations engaged in the relentless pursuit of zero do some very interesting and effective things like:

  • Teach and live near-miss excellence and then deliver 1-2 near miss solutions per employee, per year. That means they do hundreds of near-miss resolutions each year and employees in the affected area solve about 90 percent of them within 3-5 business days. Their injury numbers plummet as a result of this intensity on fixing whatever is not right in their area of responsibility.
  • They run 2-4 continuous improvement safety teams each year to fix (error proof) the Safety Perception Survey key processes. In addition they also complete 3-5 other safety issue continuous improvement team items each year.
  • They all have completed a team focused on safety accountabilities. As a result personnel from all levels of their organization live these important safety culture upstream activities that deliver downstream indicator performance.

Both these safety engagement culture realities really work in helping you and your organization deliver and live a relentless pursuit of world-class safety performance.


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