Safety Culture

MISSING IMAGE - Does your culture go beyond OSHA compliance?

By Brie DeLisi

Prior to COVID-19, OSHA inspections were already on a decline, “the average number of OSHA inspections per year under this administration is more than 5,000 inspections less per year than the average number of inspections” under previous administrations, according to an NELP data brief. During COVID-19, employee complaints soared while OSHA inspections have nearly halted. Additionally, OSHA has only provided recommendations for COVID-19 employer response – with no enforceable guidelines.


Setting the Right G.O.A.L.S. for Safety

Setting the Right GOALS for Safety

By Josh Williams, Ph. D.

Leaders need to make sure they set intelligence safety goals to improve performance and prevent SIFs. Proper goal setting helps field leaders and employees understand the value of a unified greater purpose. They also set objective, actionable behaviors which should be integrated into daily activities. Research demonstrates that there is a statistically significant reduction in injuries when leaders effectively articulate a compelling vision and inspire employees to work towards goals that meet that mission (Hoffmeister et al., 2014). Also, a 10% improvement in employee’s understanding of organizational values and goals results in a 12.7% reduction in safety incidents (Gallup, 2017). The G.O.A.L.S. acronym is a helpful heuristic to set smart safety goals for the organization. Safety goals should have these elements:

Sit or Stand? Experimental Research Findings on Sit-Stand Desks

sit and stand

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

An interesting study was published recently in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology exploring the effects of standing desks. Employees who worked in sedentary jobs were randomly assigned to a control group (no change in their usual behavior) or an intervention group (were provided with adjustable sit-stand desks and instructions on how to use them).


How to reduce customer anxiety in car sales

contactless car sales

By Julia Borges

Purchasing a vehicle is always a big deal. From deciding between various vehicle options to filling out all necessary paperwork, it can certainly cause a fair amount of anxiety for customers. Financing or leasing a car has always been viewed as a long, tedious process with many steps that will most likely keep customers there for the majority of their day – and in some cases, can even take multiple days.


Returning to a Safe and Healthy Office Work Environment Blog Series: Office Environment Setup

Office Environment Setup

By Brie DeLisi

Many of us are in the process of shifting back into office environments or considering the appropriate next steps for a safe return to the office. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that can be taken for the physical work environment to ensure employees are kept as safe and healthy as possible. The purpose of these physical work environment adjustments is to ensure employees can be properly distanced to avoid COVID exposures the air and that shared resources limit surface exposures. Considerations should include employee distancing, space resourcefulness, adding structures, air ventilation, shared resources and sanitation.

RIP Paul O’Neill: Safety Champion

Paul O’Neill

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

The world lost a great safety champion last week in former Treasury Secretary and Alcoa Chairman and CEO Paul O’Neill. O’Neill was a fierce advocate of employee safety and took big risks (and won!) going “all in” on injury prevention. He took the bold step of saying there were no budget constraints for safety at Alcoa, even if that meant lost revenue and an unhappy Board of Directors.

How a Strong Safety Climate Makes a Difference During a Pandemic


By Madison Hanscom

Safety climate is a shared perception that employees have regarding the relative importance of safe conduct in their workplace. This includes the procedures, policies, routines, and behaviors that get rewarded or the behaviors that are expected (1). It is widely understood there are a great deal of benefits associated with having a strong safety climate. A strong safety climate is associated with higher morale, less accidents, stronger safety motivation, more safety behaviors from employees, and so on (2,3). A less visible (yet still important) benefit of having a strong safety climate is the potential to protect workers and the general public from a viral outbreak. Read More...

COVID-19 in the Construction Industry – Managing Distancing from a Work Perspective


By Eric Johnson

As calls for distancing continue to increase in both social environments and working environments, social behaviors can adapt relatively quickly to increasing distance, but work environments can pose challenges. The cases of the latter can involve situations that require the presence of employees in a mandatory way and/or in a teamwork environment. In the case of construction, we look at several types of organizations in the construction industry and how the COVID-19 recommended social distancing will affect both the organization and the business.

COVID-19, Leadership, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

One of the most well-known models in social psychology is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This simple classification of human needs, introduced by Abraham Maslow in 1943, outlines intrinsic human motivation (see diagram). Read More...

Is your remote workforce prepared for COVID-19 cybersecurity threats?

technology safety

By Martin Royal

While taking care of our health and safety during the COVID-19 crisis is the priority, many will find themselves working remotely for the first time and might face other potential threats: cybersecurity threats.

Mutual Safety: why we need to lookout for one another

Doctor taking prescription

By: Julia Borges, M.A.

What is mutual safety?

As the number of confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus continues to climb, people all over the world are preparing for its impacts. Some are stocking up on food, others are working from home, and some are choosing to self-isolate. Self-isolation is one of the most important steps we can take to slow the spread of this virus – and it’s not just for our own safety, it’s also for the safety of others. This is what we call mutual safety. In the case of this pandemic, it is when two or more parties take actions, such as self-isolation, to keep themselves and others from contracting the virus. Mutual safety is when we look beyond ourselves and take actions that increase the safety of others. Read More...

Beware of the Blanket Policy


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Organizational leaders are understandably frustrated sometimes when employees are injured on the job. Of course, their primary concern is the well-being of the affected individual. However, they may also feel like they have policies in place which, if followed, would have prevented the incident. This leads to a common occurrence where an injury is almost immediately followed by a new rule or blanket policy that applies to everyone. Sometimes these policies make great sense as people were unaware of a risk. It may even save a life. Too often, however, these policies are applied poorly and don’t apply beyond the specific area or job where the incident occurred. This leads to irritation and, occasionally, odd responses. Read More...

The relationship between safety culture and lean manufacturing


By Brie DeLisi

In many organizations safety and operational excellence are two separate functions, any overlap is deemed coincidental. However, these two functions are incredibly interrelated when it comes to the actual practice and the related values. At the most foundational level, lean processes and safety culture both rely on the same thing: the employees.


Safety Prioritization and the effects on safety culture


By Brie DeLisi

Most organizations believe that by having ‘safety’ as a company value and conducting annual safety training is sufficient to drive the message that safety matters. At Propulo, we’ve heard time and time again that “it goes without saying” and “employees know that safety matters” when we ask about a lack of safety conversations. However, the human brain doesn’t quite work like that – the brain prefers to prioritize what is considered important. Read More...

Speak Up for Safety: Using the Power of Conformity

care-and-speaking-up-for safety

Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Employees can prevent serious injuries and fatalities by speaking up when they see coworkers operating at-risk. Unfortunately, social norms and pressure may prevent this. Many organizations have created culture that reflect the famous Hank Williams song refrain, “Mind your own business and you won’t be minding mine.” The power of conformity, not speaking up in this case, is powerful. An illustration from social psychology demonstrates this.

The Power of the Mind: Using Cognitive Psychology to Prevent SIFs


Josh Williams, Ph.D.

According to OSHA, more than 14 people die on the job every day and most of these occur in high risk work environments.1 Specifically, 21% of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. occurred with construction workers, there were more than 1500 deaths in the oil and gas industry over the last decade, and recent studies show utilities are becoming the highest risk industry for SIFs.2-4 Something needs to be done to prevent these serious injuries and fatalities from occurring.


How does your emergency preparedness reflect on your safety culture?

Crates on fire burning

By Brie DeLisi

At Propulo, we understand that emergency preparedness is one of the most important indicators of organizational safety culture maturity. Emergency preparedness includes several aspects including:
- Identification of risks (fire, medical, natural disasters, loss of power, security, etc.)
- Written plans to address those risks with actionable items
- Conducting drills of those plans and testing systems
- Applying continuous improvement to update and validate the plans when gaps are exposed


The “Shocking” Power of Leadership


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

In of the most famous psychological experiments in history, Stanley Milgram set up a situation in which participants believed they were providing electric shock to a perfect stranger (who was actually a paid actor) as part of a study on memory and learning. Participants were told to shock the person, who was in another room, when he or she gave incorrect answers to various word pair questions. In some cases, the actor made a point to say he had a heart condition. Read More...

Recessions and Safety

recession and safety

By Eric Johnson

One of the biggest challenges to developing a robust safety culture we find is built around the value of safety. Unless you are Apple, corporate resources are often quite limited and have competing interests tugging at them, all while trying to demonstrate the best return on equity. Those projects/processes/activities that are best quantifiable are often the first to receive the benefit of resources. Read More...

The Value of Mentoring in Safety

safety mentorship

By Eric Johnson

When our organization engages clients, one of the first steps we perform in our assessments centers around establishing a baseline regarding the safety culture climate within the organization at all levels. These questions center around elements such as “What is the overall view of safety within the organization?”; “How do employees react to injuries – both to themselves and to others?”; “How does safety messaging impact employees”. The answers to these questions often depend on both the current safety climate but also historical data. Within the conversational aspect of our assessments, we often come across a common theme that can enhance and support a growing safety culture – the component of mentoring within safety. Read More...

Safety at the Front-Line


By Eric Johnson

“Why can’t my employees just work safer?” is a question we hear again and again when interacting with senior-level and mid-level leadership. “Management simply doesn’t know what we are dealing with” rebuts front-line employees. And indeed, both are partially correct. It’s this middle ground where an established safety culture can take root.

Safety focus is not independent of other aspects of the organization, but can enhance or detract the work experience depending on the engagement of the front-line – an engagement that can be supported by management Read More...

Operations and Non-Serious Injuries


By Eric Johnson

One of the biggest elements of a good safety program is the ability of employees to feel free to both own their safety to protect themselves from hazards and to then report safety incidents, close calls, as they happen within the workplace. Within groups that exhibit private compliance and higher maturities, the workforce feels comfortable and duty-oriented to enforce safety. But as we all know, safety is a journey, not a destination, and elements of a safety culture can quickly erode if not deliberately maintained. Read More...

Caring vs. Compliance: The Secret Sauce to Improve Safety Culture


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Organizational leaders make two common errors when trying to improve safety performance and culture. First, they overemphasize safety statistics to the point that employees believe the safety “numbers” trump genuine caring about their well-being. Second, they stress compliance with rules to the point that employees may feel like their job is to avoid breaking any rules so they don’t get fired. Clearly, rules compliance and safety statistics are important. However, leaders should spend more time showing genuine caring for employees. This is an investment in your people as well as your culture. Increasing active caring increases the probability of safe work practices and a corresponding reduction in serious injuries and fatalities.


Beware of Incentives: When Good Intentions Go Wrong

Icy sidewalk

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

For years, organizational leaders have used incentives to try and motivate safety. The rationale is that providing financial rewards for not getting hurt will get employees to “try harder” to stay safe. In reality, it simply encourages non-reporting which is why OSHA now frowns upon outcome-based incentives. It can also create other problems. Read More...

Rewarding employees for a lack of injuries

Days since injury-2

By Brie DeLisi

How many times have you seen a sign that says: “XX days since our last injury”? Or a pizza party, awards, or bonuses for no injuries? These celebrations are commonplace at businesses across the world. The original purpose of celebrating a lack of injuries is that it seemingly demonstrates that we kept our employees safe and to keep it up! It is an admirable and noteworthy accomplishment to keep employees safe for a whole year, or even years. However, there is an unintended consequence that has a tendency to rear its ugly head when this is our only form of recognition for safety. Read More...

Downsizing and the impact on employees

Empty Boardroom table with chairs

By Brie DeLisi and Kelly Cave

The term “downsizing” is enough to make anyone’s brain enter into a tailspin – Am I going to be fired? Will this affect me? How will this affect my job? My family? When is it going to happen? What am I going to do? Read More...

The ‘Lumberjack’


By Eric Michrowski

We’ve all seen it or heard the stories. Someone claims to have been injured and seeks benefits. Or someone that is always off with “injuries”. I’ve heard all of them over the years including a worker that was injured over 35 times in a 20-year career! Injury-prone or are these signs of something more? Read More...

The Hidden Costs of Disengagement


By Kelly Cave and Brie DeLisi

Imagine having a job that makes you feel excited to go to work every day. When you get to work, you feel highly energized and identify strongly with the work you are doing. Now, on the flip side, imagine having a job that makes you dread going into work every day. This job feels like it is sapping your energy, and you spend your days counting down the hours and minutes until you get to go home. Which of these jobs would you rather have?

Mindfulness and the workplace

Nature - stones on the water

By Melanie Kramer, Steph Andel and Brie DeLisi

What is mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., the man credited for inventing the fundamental of mindfulness, describes it as the moment to moment, non-judgmental awareness. In other words, by paying attention in the present moment without reacting or judging (13). Even more simply, it is noticing what is happening while it is happening. Kabat-Zinn (13) argues that the greater the mindfulness, the greater the awareness (and thus insight) that may stem from it. Read More...

New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day….“Safety Break for Oregon” Day


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

We’re all accustomed to annual days meant to celebrate important people in our lives. We have Valentine’s Day tomorrow which will soon be followed by Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and (don’t forget) Secretary’s Day. Another important day to celebrate is the “Safety Break for Oregon” day on May 8. This is an annual safety day established sixteen years ago by OSHA Oregon. Basically, it’s a safety stand-down for the entire state! Read More...

Close Call Reporting: Don’t Sweep Things Under the Rug

airport from above

By Brie DeLisi and Josh Williams

Does your organization promote a culture of reporting or a fear of punishment surrounding close call events? Recently an air traffic controller in Switzerland was actually convicted in Swiss court for reporting a near miss...

Safe production as an assessment lens

safety worker

By Brie DeLisi

As an organizational leader, you might be interested in understanding the current state of the safety program for any number of reasons, whether it be to address incidents or injury rates, comply with regulations or company requirements, or because you’ve determined that a strong safety program is necessary. Read More...

Lessons Learned from Mining, Refining and the Cleveland Browns

workers at plant_Fotor (2)

By Josh Williams

With apologies to our friends in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns professional football team has been historically bad for decades. Their record over the last 10 years is 48-122 (31st out of 32 teams in winning percentage). It was recently announced they will be looking for a new head coach to change their culture and start winning more games. Surely change is needed to reverse their losing ways, right? Read More...