BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZWhatâ€™s in, whatâ€™s out in the safety worldâ€¦
IN - Performance metrics; OUT - Perception surveys
IN â€“ Coaching; OUT - Supervisors
IN â€“ Risk; OUT - Hazard
IN â€“ Safety contacts; OUT - Observations
IN â€“ Exposure events; OUT - Employee behavior
IN â€“ Change; OUT - Status quo
IN â€“ Feelings; OUT - OSHA regs
IN â€“ Organizational life; OUT - Organizational systems
IN â€“ Relationships; OUT - Enforcement
IN â€“ Conversations; OUT - Discipline
IN â€“ VPP Star; OUT - VPP Merit
IN â€“ Great places to work; OUT - Policies & paperwork
IN â€“ Culture; OUT - Operator error
IN â€“ Assessing personalities; OUT -Blame game
IN â€“ Trust; OUT - Shoot the messenger
IN â€“ Management resources; OUT - Lip service
IN â€“ Empathy; OUT - Punishment
IN â€“ Voluntary; OUT - Mandatory
HOT: RISK; NOT: HAZARDSlowly but surely â€œriskâ€ is replacing â€œhazardâ€ in the language of safety pros. ASSEâ€™s conference presented sessions on risk assessment, risk auditing and risk management. â€œIsnâ€™t everything in life a risk assessment?â€ asked one speaker.
Speaker Gary Lopez went so far to predict the death of the â€œsafety manager,â€ replaced by the title, â€œrisk manager,â€ which resonates more with loss-conscious management.
â€œSafety manâ€ is obsessed with body counts, regulatory black magic, and hazards,â€ said Lopez. He argued that â€œhazardâ€ is an imprecise term that causes pros to lose focus, chasing dangers that may or may not be significant. â€œRiskâ€ sharpens the focus by quantifying and prioritizing hazards, he said.
HOT: METRICS; NOT: PERCEPTIONSThe hunt for new measures of safety performance continues. Dan Petersen has published a new book on metrics. Organization Resources Counselors has produced a matrix of leading, trailing and financial metrics.
â€œThe old OSHA recordables measure is an albatross on the profession,â€ said Skipper Kendrick, former ASSE president, at one session. â€œThey donâ€™t show you how to get better,â€ said one attendee.
But perception surveys, an alternative metric advocated by Petersen and ORC, scare many companies afraid of opening a can of employee complaints. â€œResponses are so anecdotal they donâ€™t identify organizational causes of the perceptions,â€ asserts BST in a handout distributed at the meeting.
HOT: MORPHING; NOT: STANDING STILLItâ€™s 2005, what are you doing to keep yourself relevant? BST, a prominent ASSE expo vendor and pioneer in behavior-based safety, now espouses safety â€œas a foundation for excellence in reliability, productivity, quality, and profitability.â€
Dr. Scott Geller attracted long lines at the meeting for autographed copies of his new book, â€œPeople-Based Safety.â€ Another BBS pioneer, Geller says in a handout: â€œBehavior-based safety is good, but People-Based Safety is great!â€
Even the language of safety is morphing. Accidents are becoming known as incidents. Hazards become risks. Behaviors evolve into exposure events.
HOT: ENGAGE; NOT: ENFORCEThe verb of the hour is â€œengage.â€ Every speaker at ASSE seemed to work it into his or her presentation.
â€œEHS pros must get more engaged in global debates,â€ urged ORCâ€™s Frank White in a session on whatâ€™s driving EHS activity today. Right now, noses are pressed up against windows.
The last thing you want: employees with disengaged brains, said Lawrence Waterman, describing the freeze-out effect of too many rules and codes.
Actually, the last thing you might want is to be known as an â€œenforcer.â€ Yes, thereâ€™s still a place in the EHS world for enforcement â€” even acting OSHA chief Jonathan Snare slipped enforcement numbers into his speech. But you heard much more at ASSE about coaching, facilitating, advising, coordinating and, of course, engaging.
HOT: PEOPLE; NOT: ORGANIZATIONSCurt Coffman of The Gallup Organization kicked off the ASSE conference, describing how to â€œunleash human potential.â€ He quoted Henry Ford, who lamented that all he wanted for his assembly lines was a pair of hands, but he kept getting human beings.
One hundred years later, safety pros are still trying to figure out how to deal with the whole person. Sessions at ASSE discussed behaviors, of course, plus attitudes, personality traits and states, beliefs, values, emotions and egos. â€œPeople are messy,â€ said Coffman.
Still, most pros find it simpler and more direct to deal with â€œhuman factorsâ€ and â€œhuman errorâ€ than truly messy and Byzantine organizational structures and pressures.
HOT: BEST FRIENDS; NOT: CEOsWork world relationships are in. The most significant correlation to a companyâ€™s number of workersâ€™ comp claims and incidents: whether or not employees say they have a best friend at work, according to Gallupâ€™s Coffman.
But many CEOs arenâ€™t faring well in the relationship game. CEO â€œdisengagementsâ€ are up 300 percent since 1995, USA Today reports.
â€œIâ€™m on my fifth president in five years,â€ said one attendee. â€œTo be honest, I donâ€™t know whoâ€™s calling the shots.â€ That makes long-term safety planning a shot in the dark.
HOT: HARMONY; NOT: CONFLICTâ€œI want people feeling good,â€ shouted Scott Geller to several hundred attendees at his session.
You canâ€™t duck discipline and malcontents, several speakers conceded, but clearly today the focus is on creating â€œgreat places to workâ€ and â€œmanaging around weaknesses,â€ as Gallupâ€™s Coffman said.
OSHAâ€™s Snare spoke at length about â€œsuccess storiesâ€ built on cooperation and partnerships, and the agencyâ€™s 349 alliances.
The â€œsoft sideâ€ of safety is carrying the day, dominating EHS conferences like ASSEâ€™s. â€œItâ€™s time we got more personal,â€ said one attendee. â€œEngage hearts and minds before hands. Show genuine caring. Thatâ€™s a more effective message to employees.â€