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Safety Culture

By Josh Williams, Ph.D. For decades, you couldn’t attend a safety conference or open a safety magazine without running into behavior-based safety (BBS). It was EVERYWHERE! Some hailed BBS as the “next big thing.” Others said it was just another “blame the employee” program. Whatever your stance on BBS, it was ever-present and top of mind for many organizational leaders looking to jumpstart their safety performance.    And then a funny thing happened … we stopped hearing about it. Even one of the original architects of BBS declared it dead. So, the question is: Is BBS really dead? And if so, who or

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By Eric Michrowski At the end of the day, every operation needs to deliver a product or service at a certain cost and quality level in order for the business to succeed. Improvements in productivity have a direct impact on the ultimate success of a business. The flip side is that most incidents tend to happen because of unsafe shortcuts due to the pressure of meeting customer or productivity needs. So what is the solution? It’s not about choosing between productivity and safety. Instead, it’s about creating a solid balance where people drive results and continuous improvement but don’t feel pressured to

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Leaders need to get more input from employees about safety. Better decisions are made and practical improvements are made when employee input is solicited and used. Participation rates are also higher. Years ago, a behavioural safety process was implemented in a manufacturing firm as part of a NIOSH grant. Half of the group designed their own card and rules for use (“participation group”). The other half were given a card with instructions to follow (“compliance group”). The participation group that designed their own process completed 7 times as many observations as the passive compliance group. And employees

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Improving safety culture requires a lot of time, effort, and energy…plus a LOT of employee participation! One powerful way to get employees involved in safety is to advertise all the good things you’re doing to keep them safe. This is especially important when improvements are made based on employees’ suggestions. When workers bring up concerns, report close calls, and provide safety suggestions it’s extremely important to listen and respond well. Otherwise, people’s opinions go into “a black hole” and employees shut down. There’s little point providing your safety input if no one is listening. Strong leaders share safety successes

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By Josh Williams, Ph.D. Sometimes safety can feel like a drag. Leaders are constantly reinforcing safety meetings, rules, policies etc. These are critical safety accountabilities but aren’t always fun. Here are two quick ways to add a little spice to your safety programs. Safety Fairs Fairs aren’t just for kids. Establish annual employee safety fairs to reinforce safety and have some fun. Provide speakers, health tests, music, food, and giveaways (like first aid kits) and invite employees’ families to join in on the fun. Forward-thinking organizations emphasize wellness programs to promote employee health and safety. Hosting events centered around safety shows that your

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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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