Organizational leaders are increasingly turning to Human Performance (HP) principles to improve safety culture and prevent SIFs. HP emphasizes the importance of improving environmental contingencies to encourage safe work practices. In other words, fix the system to improve safety and don’t blame employees following incidents. Basic HP tenants include (Williams & Roberts, 2018): See details in the link below. Do your leaders incorporate human performance elements to improve safety culture and prevent SIFs? Take this quiz and find out.
Does your organization reinforce a culture of reporting or is there some fear (or hassle) associated with close call events? The answer to that question is a great litmus test for your overall safe production culture. The purpose of reporting close calls (and minor injuries) is to promote a learning culture and avoid serious injuries in the future. Close call reporting, when done correctly, is a powerful tool to improve safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities. How well does your organization manage close call reporting? Take the following quiz and find out.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy safe production culture. This is particularly important with one-on-one conversations with employees. Employees who feel listened to and appreciated are more likely to go beyond the call of duty for safety and other organizational efforts. Effective communicators demonstrate genuine caring, promote psychological safety, actively listen, and provide recognition regularly. How strong are your safety communication skills? Take the quiz below to find out.
For years, organizational leaders have used incentives to try and motivate safety. The rationale is that providing financial rewards for not getting hurt will motivate employees to “try harder” for safety. In reality, this often encourages non-reporting which is why OSHA now discourages outcome-based incentives. Plus, people are already motivated to avoid injury. Effective incentives, if used, should focus on proactive safety behaviors and efforts. Rewards should be symbolic and safety themed. Genuine appreciation and recognition trump all other incentives. Take the quiz below to see how well you’re managing safety incentives.
Improving safety culture is vital to long term performance excellence. Organizations with weak or underdeveloped safety cultures typically find that incident rates unexpectedly fluctuate without apparent rhyme or reason. Leaders in these organizations struggle for sustained reductions in incidents, property damage, and injuries. Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Take the following quiz and find out.
BBS has been successfully used to improve safety culture and performance for decades (Williams, 2010; Geller, 1996). BBS checklists are an effective means to identify and reinforce safe actions along with noting and addressing at-risk behaviors. Immediate feedback is provided to the employee and group data is analyzed to determine behavioral trends in various locations. In addition to being highly diagnostic and informative, the ongoing process of identifying and addressing key issues provides something most safety programs can’t deliver: sustainability. Rather than training being a “one and done” exercise, BBS provides a foundation and system for ongoing improvement efforts.
Effective safety leadership is essential to improve safety culture and prevent incidents. Strong safety leadership commitment is significantly related to lower incidents and injuries. Effective safety leaders: Emphasize safety as much as production and quality, both formally (e.g., meetings) and informally. Always consider safety when making organizational decisions. Communicate the importance of safety as frequently as possible. Recognize that a failure to “walk the talk” for safety leads to employee resentment for safety. Advertise safety improvements and successes. Hold supervisors accountable for supporting safety. Increase personal visibility on the floor to discuss safety (and other) issues with employees. Institutionalize employee input (e.g., safety suggestion programs) for safety. Ensure identified safety hazards are corrected quickly. Focus on proactive safety efforts not just injury outcome statistics.
Unlike the old “command and control” engineering approaches, HP emphasizes the importance of improving environmental contingencies to encourage safe work practices. Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable, and preventable. Most incidents are influenced by system factors like confusing procedures, excessive production pressure, faulty tools/equipment, insufficient personnel, and ineffective training. When SIFs occur, workers trigger latent conditions that already exist in systems, processes, procedures, and expectations. These conditions lay dormant until all the wrong events align perfectly to create gaps in worker protection. High reliability organizations have effective defenses to mitigate the influence of human error and error precursors. Safety should not be viewed as the absence of events but rather the presence of solid, consistent defenses against human error.
Effective safety training is a cornerstone of employee development and safety culture success. This training should be interactive and engaging. Both technical and soft-skills should be addressed at all organizational levels. Companies with robust safety training programs have 24% fewer injuries compared with those who do not (Waehrer and Miller, 2009).