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Zero Harm

Trust Me When It Comes To Unsafe Behaviours and Process Improvements

by Dave Collins on March 6, 2013 · 1 comment

in Safety Leadership

A few interesting recent articles by Phil LaDuke on his blog: 

A message from Phil:

I am still struggling to gain readership of my blog that I lost when I abandoned the Rockford Greene International blog (RIP). I hope that if you find this piece valuable you will help me promote my blog by sending it to others, reposting in other groups, making it a manager’s choice, or otherwise evangelizing my blog to those in your network that you think might find it useful and of interest.
Shameless Self Promoter

When It Comes To Unsafe Behaviours There’s Plenty Of Blame to Go Around

If you’ve made even the most cursory read of my articles and blogs you probably already know that I don’t hold much stock in Behavior Based Safety (BBS).  I believe that except for the odd statistical outlier nut-job, nobody WANTS to get hurt and unless they were designed my the Marquis De Sade you processes aren’t intended to hurt people.  If those two things are true no amount of behaviour modification—whether it be incentive programs or telling people to be more careful—is going to change much of anything.  But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe unsafe behavior is the single largest cause of injuries, and if so, we have to manage those behaviours.

Before we can manage unsafe behaviors we have to understand the context in which the behaviors occur.  We can’t take effective action unless we understand precisely why people behaved in an unsafe manner.  A couple of days ago an acquaintance told me about how he had been injured on the job during the third week of February on two consecutive years (he was nervously praying for the first of March to come so he could relax a bit).  “It was my own fault,” he explained, “I was rushing to get things done because my boss was standing over my shoulder saying ‘we gotta get this order out’”.  Unsafe behavior? sure;  the fault of the worker? I don’t think so. Most traditional BBS programs focus on the unsafe behaviors of workers. Productivity is sapped as millions of hours are wasted insisting that supervisors watch people work and coach them on their unsafe behaviours.  Don’t the people whose unsafe decisions and insistence and encouragement of unsafe behaviors bear any culpability in worker injuries? I think they should.

Read the rest of the article here:

Trust Me

There isn’t any magic bullet when it comes to making the workplace safer but the thing that comes closest is trust. No change, no improvement, no carefully crafted organizational change initiative will ever come to fruition until and unless workers trust the leadership of the organization. If workers mistrust their supervisors, the leadership, or the safety professional even the best safety efforts will fail. It sounds simple, but in my career I have seen more organizational change effort—whether aimed at improving safety or changing benefits—fail because of mistrust.


It’s a shame, because every day, we ask—no expect—worker’s to trust us, and let’s face it, in many cases there is scant reason why workers’ should believe us when we tell them that everything will be better if they just do this or that or when we tell them that this time things will be different.

Workers’ Aren’t Stupid (Well Most of Them Anyway)

Read the rest here:

Process Improvements May Be Hazardous to Your Health

There are a lot of useful things that safety professionals can learn from manufacturing, particularly Lean Manufacturing, yet surprisingly few safety practitioners—even within manufacturing—see the connection.  Two of these concepts that have a profound value on safety and risk are cycle time and takt time.  Takt time is generally defined as the maximum time per unit that it takes to produce something to fulfill the customer’s demands, and cycle time is the time it takes to do one job. Both terms are measures of capacity and key elements of efficiency.

That might not seem to mean much in terms of safety and risk, but it does.

Shorter takt times mean that providing goods (or services) to the customer is happening faster. This fact in itself doesn’t mean very much, but if you consider that to improve efficiency (for our purposes, efficiency will mean producing goods or services as quickly as possible without compromising cost, quality, or safety) you have to reduce your takt time, we start to see implications for safety.  Few of you would argue that “haste makes waste” and in fact, rushing to complete a job introduces the risk of injury, and that is exactly what can happen if we try to reduce takt time simply by cracking the whip and force the workers to work faster.

Read the whole article here:

  • George Robotham

    Trust is a fundamental thing OHS people must foster, without trust you cannot drive OHS change

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