Please don’t yawn, but this post refers to OHSA’s 10 easy ways to get started on your safety and health program. Implementing these ideas WILL TAKE COST OUT of your business. Like all these things however we strongly suggest applying a robust management program to these ideas so you can control implementation and monitor the effectiveness of what you’re doing. All the great ideas in the world are pretty useless unless you’re monitoring the effectiveness of what you’re doing…
A safe workplace is sound business – and a great place to look at reducing operating costs is to scrutinize your ‘safety’ in the workplace. OSHA has recently updated the Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs it first released 30 years ago, to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The new Recommended Practices have been well received by a wide variety of stakeholders and are designed to be used in a wide variety of small and medium-sized business settings. The Recommended Practices present a step-by-step approach to implementing a safety and health program, built around seven core elements that make up a successful program.
The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. The recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Traditional approaches are often reactive –that is, problems are addressed only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed. These recommended practices recognize that finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective approach.
The idea is to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If you focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance, and evaluating outcomes, your workplace can progress along the path to higher levels of safety and health achievement.
Employers will find that implementing these recommended practices also brings other benefits. Safety and health programs help businesses:
- Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
- Improve compliance with laws and regulations
- Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
- Engage workers
- Enhance their social responsibility goals
- Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations
We’ll be talking about the above points in the coming weeks and offering some simple and cost effective ideas to helping you implement these practices…
Since the inception of behavioral based safety (BBS) in the early 1970’s, many thousands of companies worldwide have implemented BBS programs as a means to reduce injuries, illnesses, human suffering and ultimately cost. However, like many other business performance improvement movements both prior to and since then, the success of BBS has had mixed results to say the least.
Although the BBS model has evolved over the years in its pursuit of improved results, for many the implementation of a behavioral based safety program has been unsuccessful and led to negative conclusions:
- BBS is expensive and long term results are not as expected;
- BBS doesn’t produce lasting results;
- BBS doesn’t include and unfairly blames workers;
- BBS focuses on the wrong things;
- BBS leads to an under reporting of accidents; and,
- BBS fails to prioritize the important elements of a quality safety program.
However, digging deeper and looking past the failed BBS case studies and naysayers, there have in certain circumstances been phenomenal and encouraging results:
- The implementation of a BBS program at one of the facilities of a global automobile manufacturing company with 476 employees reduced their average lost time from 11 days/month to 1.5 days/month;
- The BBS process at an international company with 20,000 employees produced savings of approximately $1,000 per employee in a year; and,
- A recent study on the business case for investing in a healthy workplace found that the cost-benefit ratio for behavioral safety ranged from $1.50 to $6.15 for every dollar invested.
Why then, when there is so much potential for enormous returns and improved performance through BBS, is it that some BBS programs succeed so remarkably while other fail so badly?
Like most things that involve people, organizational behavior and corporate culture, the answer to this conundrum may be found by simply asking oneself ‘what precisely is BBS and how does it work’?
According to the Cambridge Centre for Behavioral Research:
BBS is the application of behavioral research on human performance to the problems of safety in the workplace; and,
A successful BBS program must employ the science of behavioral analytics (or the science of behavioral change) to improve workplace safety.
Consequently, a successful BBS program must (by definition) include:
Behaviorally specific desirable performance;
The measurement of safety performance; and,
The changing of behavior through feedback – usually immediate.
If we were to look back at the failed BBS case studies, my bet is that you will see a woefully common trend – that in the vast majority of cases of BBS failure, the company in question lacked one or more of these three key ingredients of success.
So, before you start and as you try to implement or improve your BBS program, ask yourself the following:
Has your company clearly defined and communicated the behaviorally specific performance that is desired?
Does your company have the means to measure (e.g. the data necessary to analyze and report) ongoing safety performance?
Does your company have the means (including organizational culture, management systems & commitment) to provide meaningful, relevant and immediate feedback about behavior and performance that must change?
If you can answer yes to ALL three of these questions, then there is no reason whatsoever that your company can’t also implement a successful BBS program and like many others also produce significant improvements in safety performance while simultaneously reducing workplace injury and illness from a BBS program that pays for itself many times over in the years to come.
Whether you are a Fortune 500 multinational or a small, family-owned business, safety management is a complex, data driven activity involving teams of people working together from all corners of a business. Thinking you can run a successful business – large or small – without a safety management software solution is like trying to successfully manage that same business without a functional financial or HR management software system – implausible.
For safety management to be truly effective it must be based on the tenets of continuous improvement and include the collection, management, comparison and reporting of performance indicators regularly and across your entire business.
With safety management, these indicators are typically leading, lagging or both and are the metrics used to measure safety performance in your workplace. As recently outlined by the Campbell Institute, choosing the right safety indicators is a considered process and depends on your own circumstances. For indicators to be effective they should meet certain criteria – see also Elevating EHS Leading Indicators: From Defining to Designing.
Whether you choose use lagging indicators (post facto, better than none) or leading indicators (forward looking, preventative and preferable) to manage performance, one thing is certain – to truly manage safety performance well, you will need to manage a lot of safety data. Remember, knowledge is power (Francis Bacon. 1581).
Unless you have the software tools to facilitate the collection, management and reporting of a lot of safety data, you will not have the metrics needed to easily and effectively communicate performance, define priorities and benchmark success.
So, just as the use of performance indicators is a key component of a functional safety management system, so too is a software solution that enables you and your team to easily and effectively collect, compare, report and manage safety data to provide meaningful feedback, trend analysis and comparisons for continuous improvement.
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When it comes to managing safety performance through the use of safety data, garbage in equals garbage out (GIGO) and no amount of inconsistent, nonsensical or incomparable safety data can help you manage safety performance comprehensively and effectively.
That’s because a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture and safety management system relies on the collection and use of consistent, comparable and meaningful safety data.
Whether your company uses leading indicators (e.g. number of employees trained, behavioral observations completed, near misses reported), lagging indicators (Lost Time Hours, the number of Workers Compensation Board or Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports filed) or both, unless the safety data you collect is consistent and comparable across your business you will be challenged – at best – to prioritize, plan and implement practices that will in fact improve safety performance in the long run.
Consequently, safety performance improvement programs must be driven by two key factors. First, ensure you collect data that is consistent and a key step to consistency is the use of standard, company-wide checklists and inspections to collect data for indicators such as:
Behavioral based observations
Reportable incidents and injuries
Next, if you are able to implement the tools needed to collect data consistently, the second ingredient of success is to ensure you can meaningfully compare the data collected to ensure that your safety management program is driven by the real safety priorities in your business and at the very least be sure you have the capability to compare safety data:
by leading and/or lagging safety indicator
by location, site, department or product line
by activity, task, shift, etc., and of course …
across your entire business.
If you are able to collect and compare meaningful safety data across your business, you will most certainly avoid spending GIGO Whats of energy trying to improve and will have set the foundation for a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture across your entire business.
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Join us at booth 308 for the National Safety Council Congress and Expo! Anaheim, October 17 – 19, 2016.
ASSE’s Safety 2016 Conference & Exposition June 26 – June 29, 2016, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta Georgia.
Come by booth 1854 for a live demo of Certainty Software to see how we can help you improve your safety inspection data management.
We are thrilled to welcome Western Refining as a client!
Western Refining is an independent oil refiner and marketer, headquartered in El Paso, Texas and own and operate 2 refineries with a total crude oil throughput capacity of approximately 151,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Western Refining are using Certainty Software to manage their safety audits, confined space audits, and LOTO audits.
With the new year, we are changing!
With the addition of the new corrective action management features we are re-branding Digitidoo to Certainty Software to better reflect the full management system capabilities now offered.
Watch our new Certainty Software video to see how we are changing the way safety professionals manage inspections, inspection data and safety performance in their businesses.