Conall

Organizational Change

By Josh Williams, Ph.D. In late 2021, we began working with a leading chemical manufacturing company to revamp their behavior-based safety (BBS) program. This organization has a strong safety culture and emphasizes safety as a core value. However, their BBS program had grown stale. This was due to an overly long checklist and overemphasis on quotas which led to “pencil whipping” cards and very negative perceptions of the program. Recognizing these limitations, we worked with EHS leaders to create an entirely new BeHOP© process which combined the best elements of both Behavior-Based Safety and Human and Organizational Performance. One of the

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Several years ago, we were asked to work with a leading manufacturing company to assess their human performance (HP) and safety culture practices. Although they had high executive safety commitment and numerous progressive HP programs, they wanted to level up their performance. We partnered with them to identify strengths to reinforce and gaps to address to help optimize their safety processes and culture. The first step in these improvement efforts involved the creation of a highly customized survey to assess specific safety culture and process safety efforts. Tailored interview and focus group questions were also created to get

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By Eduardo Lan People in organizations without a strong safety culture often believe that safety is somebody else's job. When asked who owns safety around here, they may point to the organization’s leaders or to somebody else other than themselves. In their mind, they may see their role as limited to production or construction and honestly believe that safety is the purview of the safety department or professional. This level of ownership shifts with a higher degree of safety culture maturity, where people understand that they have a role to play in the creation of a safe workplace. In such workplaces,

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Football coaches like the Patriots’ Bill Belichick make more than $10M per year trying to guide their teams to an NFL championship. Ridiculous sums of money? Maybe. But there are lessons learned from elite coaches that can be applied to safety culture improvement.   Coaches spend countless hours preparing their weekly game plans. This includes reviewing past game tape to identify strengths and shore up weaknesses and properly preparing for next week’s opponent. It’s an ongoing process of performance review, planning, execution, and re-evaluation.  Safety culture assessments and strategic planning are similar processes (minus the game tape and weekly schedules).

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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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