ASSEâ€™s Safety 2006, June 11-14 in Seattle, was a hit. Attendance records were broken (3,941 attendees), conference sessions were well attended, and expo vendors seemed giddy with the quality of sales leads. The show was high energy. Not a lot of decaf being consumed in this coffee-laden town. Here are some observations and notes from Safety 2006â€¦
The power of cultureCulture seemed to be king at this conference, with a number of sessions dedicated to helping attendees implement change. â€œRespect the power of culture,â€ exhorted Stan Slap, noted corporate strategist and a keynote speaker at the ASSE event. Addressing a standing-room-only crowd, Slap pointed out â€œdeadly sinsâ€ of strategic implementation, which include:
Steven Simon, Ph.D., of Culture Change Consultants, Inc., which worked with GE on a successful culture change project, told an ASSE workshop audience that there are four critical factors for culture change: 1) strong EHS leadership; 2) strong focus on culture; 3) partnership between union and company; and 4) solid infrastructure to sustain the culture change until it is driven by the grass roots.
PassionA common thread among several speakers who discussed culture was the idea of impassioned leadership. Stan Slap said emotional commitment from leadership is needed for safety to succeed. Leadership, said Steve Farber, president of Extreme Leadership, Inc. and a keynote speaker at the conference, requires audacity â€” â€œsticking your neck out when you know something isnâ€™t right.â€
â€œSome employers believe that protecting employees is actually the right thing to do,â€ Samuel J. Gualardo told his ASSE audience while addressing safety culture improvement. â€œIt should have nothing to do with OSHA.â€
The emotional connection between senior leaders and safety is significant, noted Thomas R. Krause, chairman of Behavior Science Technology, Inc., and a speaker at the conference. What motivates a senior leaderâ€™s interest in fatality prevention is the personal interest, he said.
People-based safetyOne of the hottest sessions at the conference was Scott Gellerâ€™s presentation on People-Based Safetyâ„¢, as evidenced by the fact that late arrivals to the June 12 afternoon session were turned away at the door because the room was packed. For those who did get in, they heard Dr. Geller discuss the dynamics of human nature relevant to increasing involvement in occupational safety to prevent injuries.
If youâ€™re curious to know the differences between People-Based Safetyâ„¢ and the once-acclaimed behavior-based safety, Dr. Geller points out ten key distinctions between the two:
What CEOs want to hearAs a safety pro, you need to know how to talk to your CEO in order to promote a safe and healthy workplace, said Fay Feeney of Envision Strategic Group. Speaking at an ASSE session, Feeney, along with Teresa Pacelli of Venture Programs, said that CEOs expect safety pros to know five things: 1) how do we compare to the competition; 2) how does safety contribute to the companyâ€™s financial health; 3) what is the return on investment (ROI) if the CEO agrees; 4) what needs to be done and why; and 5) what are the next steps.
And it is interesting to note that some CEOs may not be as out of touch with safety as you might think. When asked during the conferenceâ€™s executive summit what is not helpful to CEOs, James Keller, senior vice president of Weyerhaeuser, responded, â€œYou donâ€™t have to lecture me. I get it.â€
Finger pointing is not helpful either, offered Stephen Hanks, president and CEO of Washington Group International.
OSHA: â€œGOOD COPâ€While OSHAâ€™s new administrator Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. didnâ€™t make any groundbreaking announcements during his ASSE plenary session speech, he did insist that the federal agency will aggressively pursue employers that violate safety and health laws. However, while Foulke touted tough enforcement, he also said that OSHA must convince people that the agency is there to help them and that OSHA is â€œthe good cop on the corner.â€ He stressed that the agency strives to prevent injuries and that it will make an effort to work with employers it has never reached before.
No new standardsIn meeting with the safety industry press following his ASSE speech, Foulke answered â€œnoâ€ when asked by an ISHN reporter if there are any new OSHA standards on the horizon. He did, however, add â€œweâ€™ll see,â€ and that during his tenure heâ€™d at least like to â€œget some things out there.â€
Sidebars:Distinctions between BBS & PBS
|Behavior-Based Safety||People-Based Safety|