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Culture Change

By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Strong safety rules, policies and procedures are integral to incident prevention. While the topic of “rules” isn’t scintillating, it’s extremely important to get it right with procedures. It’s also easy to mess up if you’re not careful. For example, one auto manufacturing facility over-reacted to an employee eye injury by mandating safety glasses in all areas of the plant even where glasses really weren’t needed. This is sometimes called the shotgun effect. Although most employees begrudgingly wore their safety glasses, several employees got creative and popped the lenses out of their safety glasses and simply wore the

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Effective and interactive pre-job briefs are an essential way to start the day and keep people safe. Unfortunately, in some organizations, these meetings are simply a “check the box” activity that is repetitive and stale. Field leaders go through the motions and read items off a piece of paper, then quickly get back to work. In other companies, pre-job briefs are robust and interactive. Hourly employees often speak up during these sessions and sometimes lead the meetings. So why do pre-job briefs matter anyway? Throughout the course of any given day, there are a number of unforeseen circumstances that

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By Eduardo Lan Many of the clients we work with at Propulo Consulting ask us what it takes to create a robust Safety Culture where people work safely out of choice rather than obligation. Three critical elements of this are an organizational willingness to learn, an engaged workforce, and the leadership that creates such an environment. Leaders set the cultural tone Leaders are critical to this equation because they set the cultural tone of the organization. As Edgar H. Schein, former MIT professor and organizational culture guru, says: “Leaders reinforce an organization’s culture by what they pay attention to and how they choose

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. There are no shortcuts to safety culture improvement. However, if there was a safety culture improvement ‘hack’ it would be getting and using more employee input for safety. One of the best ways of doing this is through safety suggestions from front-line employees. This should be done both formally (e.g., peer checks, safety committees) and informally (1-1 conversations). Many of the best and most practical safety ideas come from front-line employees. Also, getting more employee input leads to better decision-making and increased front-line discretionary effort for safety. For example, at one manufacturing facility in Southwest Virginia, the safety

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Organizational safety communication is a key litmus test for healthy (or unhealthy) safety cultures. The best organizations have ongoing, open feedback throughout the organization. Weaker organizations have one-way traffic with communications (not getting employee input), insufficient psychological safety, and disorganized messaging. It is common for us to meet with EHS leaders who will provide pages of safety improvements over the last few months. However, when we speak with field employees, many are unable to list a single improvement they’ve seen. The hard work of making changes was made but the (seemingly) easy task of advertising them was not.

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By Eric Michrowski Active care is one of the most critical safety leadership competencies. While most leaders care about their team members’ wellbeing, they often fail to fully reflect this care in their actions. Leaders are busy and have to juggle many tasks and decisions competing for their attention at all times, but the importance of active care should not be swept aside. In fact, research shows that when employees feel genuinely cared for by their management, they demonstrate less risk-taking behavior and have less physical health complaints. Actively caring means showing personal concern and respect for employees on an individual level.

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