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.
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.”
Twenty-five years ago, as a young safety professional, I struggled to find a set of leadership practices I could call my own. In 1996, I wrote about many of the leadership practices I was already using but found more clearly established in Servant Leadership (Sarkus, 1996).
Simply stated, process safety is a management system implemented to prevent major incidents involving hazardous materials. It is necessary for managing complex process operations. An effective process safety management system focuses on three important aspects of your business:
Process safety management (PSM) is a term that is most frequently used in highly hazardous industries like oil refining, gas processing and chemical manufacturing. However, PSM could apply to any industry where people are working in and around any hazardous equipment or environment.
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.
Dan Petersen, one of the great thinkers in the history of occupational safety, in a 2005 book, “Measurement of Safety Performance,” tore apart the traditional barometers of safety performance, the OSHA total case incident rate, total lost-workday cases, fatalities and other measures.
The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, addresses issues that should be put into practice at any workplace. New voluntary requirements and guidance cover risk assessment, the hierarchy of controls, human error, job safety planning, management systems, work performance and workplace culture.
With more experience traveling the real world seeing safety programs in action (or inaction) I realized that words matter. They not only communicate, but they can shape the very approach you take to your safety programming. They can get you stuck or they can liberate your safety culture.