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

After a presentation on effective recognition as a means of improving safety performance I received an intriguing question:  Can you advise how to measure if managers are providing feedback … and how effective it is? I am pretty sure the person asking the question must have some experience with Behavior Based Safety (BBS). Is all this front-line exposure by upper level people of any provable benefit, or are we just putting a check in the box that makes us feel better, but has no real measurable value? If we are doing NVA (Non Value Added) work, we must stop doing so.

My short answer to this question has two parts:

We must train our managers how to be effective in giving and receiving safety feedback. The Speak Up – Listen UpRecognize It series does so if the students do some role play exercises to get practice

Our audit then requires engaging a few people to go out into the field and ask open-ended questions of the employees with whom the managers reportedly spoke. The questions go something like:

a.When was the last time a manager talked to you about safety?

b.How effective was the discussion?

c.How many times in the last six months or so has a manger talked to you or your work group about safety?

d. We are trying to improve our safety involvement. Based on your experiences with managerial safety discussions how would you improve them?

I am sure you can think up a few more practical questions along this line to determine how effective this kind of program really is. What you are doing with such an approach is getting “The voice of the Customer” and then doing something about the feedback to improve your safety processes. Yes, this same type of open-ended safety discussion with our safety customers (the front-line employees) works well for checking up on the viability of other safety processes as well.