Sexual harassment, employee engagement and the evolution of discipline were all explored in 2018 articles focusing on how to improve your company’s safety culture written by the top thought leaders in the occupational safety and health profession.

Don’t gamble with reproductive health

Outdated thinking: Naive women will remain silent

Dan Markiewicz, MS, CIH, CSP, CHMM

December 3, 2018

Class action lawsuits regarding reproductive health rights were recently filed against Walmart, the U.S.’s largest private employer, in Illinois, New York and Wisconsin. Many other employers such as Amazon, Merck and Novartis face similar lawsuits, too, relating to pregnancy discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodations and violations of EEOC rules.

When your safety process goes stale

Assess program momentum, relevance & branding

Charles J. Douros

November 29, 2018

In a recent safety excellence workshop, our firm facilitated a brainstorming exercise with a group of safety professionals interested in solving a particular problem they were experiencing in their safety journey. Their safety process was boring them to tears and they worried it would grow stale and become irrelevant with the workforce.

Editor’s Letter

Who “actively cares” for Congolese miners?

Empathy only goes so far

Dave Johnson

November 21, 2018

Just by putting “Congo miners” in the title here will have most readers flipping to the next page. I learned this lesson years ago writing an article about workplace safety, or the lack thereof, in China. “Why did you write this article?” asked a reader. “I don’t read ISHN for articles about China.” Another reader opined: “Everybody knows nobody values life in a country like China.”

How a good workplace safety program got even better

November 20, 2018

A Pennsylvania metal parts manufacturer thought it already had an “exceptional” safety program when it reached out to a government program for assistance. Brockway-based Phoenix Sintered Metals, LLC, a family-owned manufacturer of sintered (compacted and formed without liquefaction) metal parts, is “committed to continuous improvement,” according to the company.

Human error & operational risk

Are you looking in the wrong place to manage non-compliant behaviors?

Peter Bridle

November 14, 2018

How confident are you that a costly, serious safety event isn’t just around the next corner? If your organization has ever been surprised or caught off-guard by a sudden deterioration in its safety performance, it may be that you’re simply not getting the whole picture when it comes to operational risk.

Employee safety discipline ain’t what it used to be

The focus is on “what failed?” not “who failed?”

Dave Johnson

November 12, 2018

A tricky thing, disciplining employees. Every safety pro has a story about discipline:“I had to terminate a woman in 1987 because her body odor was so repulsive, affecting other workers (and her boss… me),” says a pro who requested anonymity. “I remember progressive discipline... You bet I asked the HR manager for assistance.”

How to produce and market a successful safety culture

Creating good vibrations

Chuck Pettinger

November 4, 2018

Impacting organizational culture is a long-term, never-ending endeavor. Many companies struggle with maintaining and sustaining cultural initiatives because their impact may not be felt for several years. Culture, as an organizational construct, is a subjective factor not directly measurable by any instrument, survey or metric. Yet, everyone is impacted by culture and can describe when it turns bad.

How I quickly assess safety cultures

Look at primary, secondary & misleading markers

Dr John Kello

October 29, 2018

In his mega-popular book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell centers his thesis on the claim that experts come to the point where “they just know.” They develop intuition, based on diligent practice. So experts get the answer without having to go through a step-by-step process of analysis.

corporate excellence.

How construction supervisors can improve their safety leadership skills

October 19, 2018

Annually, thousands of construction supervisors take the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour outreach-training program to learn how to identify and control occupational hazards. However, until recently it did not include content on leadership.

sustainably safe and healthy.

Creating an employee-centric safety culture

You need ownership, training and safety as a value

Adam L. Bates MS, MBA

October 9, 2018

What I call a “True North Safety Culture” is the point at which an organization aligns to a value and goal of eliminating risk(s)/injuries within an organization, and also aligns mission/vision statements to this goal.

Critical behavior checklist for effective behavior-based coaching

Assessing exposure, severity & probability

E. Scott Geller

October 8, 2018

Behavior-based coaching is essential for any mission to keep people safe. It’s human nature to get distracted or complacent on the job, and to deviate from performing the prescribed safe operating procedure (SOP).

Reaping rewards: There are many ways to recognize workplace safety achievements

Theresa McEndree

October 8, 2018

Employees have come to expect to be rewarded for a variety of professional achievements or practices, including safety and industrial hygiene. In fact, 79 percent of employees want rewards programs, and 73 percent think rewards encourage engagement, according to research.

‘Safety culture’ is a messy concept

Too many interpretations lead to haphazard applications

Timothy Ludwig Ph.D.

October 4, 2018

The term “Safety culture” has become like the term “engagement” in popular management writings. There is no common agreement on the term. We are left with (mis)interpretations of terms like “safety culture,” which lead to haphazard attempts at changing organizations toward improvement. 

#MeToo at work

Alexandra I. Zelin

September 27, 2018

Despite its seriousness, sexual harassment prevention training inspires entire (albeit, tongue-in-cheek) episodes in popular American television shows, including The Office and NCIS, and memorable skits in many other venues, including Saturday Night Live. With all of this attention, it is easy to believe that sexual harassment prevention training is no longer needed.

Want a sustainable safety culture?

Audit these 11 operational discipline essentials

Deborah Grubbe James B. Porter Jr.

August 23, 2018

We know that most of us don’t like to be bounded by a set of rules around our actions and our behaviors; however, there is no sustainable safety culture if there is no operational discipline.

Dysfunctional Practices: that kill your Safety Culture (and what to do about them)

July 20, 2018

For Dysfunctional Practices: that kill your Safety Culture, Dr. Timothy Ludwig draws on his 30+ years of research and practice in behavioral approaches to safety to help managers re-shape their safety culture by driving out fear and risk and engaging their workforce.

What Employees Really Want for Safety:

Ten Guidelines for Improving Safety Culture Based on Workers’ Feedback

Josh Williams PhD

June 15, 2018

For more than 20 years, our organization, Safety Performance Solutions (SPS), has provided safety culture training and assessment for hundreds of companies worldwide. During this time, we’ve heard many positive and negative comments from employees about how organizational safety is managed.

Positive & negative workplace safety vibes

Does your presence make workers smile or feel squeamish?

Timothy Ludwig Ph.D.

April 20, 2018

How do people get to a point where they fear safety? How can something like a checklist or an SOP or a safety manager create fear? Our body is equipped with automatic protective wiring that reacts to scary stimuli with a fear response.

6 ways to implement a safety culture within your workplace

Paul DeTennis

March 5, 2018

Injuries in the workplace cost American companies billions of dollars every year. According to OSHA, it is estimated that employers spend 1 billion dollars a week on workers compensation costs in the United States. That is just the money going towards workers compensation. There are also costs that come from the days that injured employees miss work. Injuries and accidents that force injured employees to miss at least six days of work cost employers in the United States about 62 billion dollars a year.

How organizations can really fight sexual harassment

Workplace psychologists weigh in on culture, policies, and prevention

Stephany Below

January 16, 2018

The latter half of 2017 saw The New York Times break the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the movie titan’s subsequent fall. Since then, victims have brought forth a seemingly endless barrage of allegations against numerous high-profile, and very powerful, men and women within Hollywood, politics, the media, and other industries. This movement has helped to purge organizations of longstanding sexual predators and has also ignited a fervent interest in changing the workplace cultures that have allowed such abuse to go on for so long.