Building a strong safety culture is top of mind for everyone right now, and for good reason – organizations with the strongest cultures have fewer incidents. But when it comes to improving safety outcomes and making culture enhancements, there’s still one thing many EHS leaders are overlooking – the power of their own data.
Join Josh LeBrun and Bryan McWhorter for an exclusive webinar as they discuss:
1. Why reporting is the foundation to building a stronger safety culture
2. Best practices for data collection, reporting and analysis
3. How to use data to uncover trends, address gaps and improve performance
4. 5 metrics EHS departments should be tracking each month
Jamie: Hello, and a warm welcome to everybody on the line! We would like to wish everybody a good morning, a good afternoon, or a good evening, depending on where you are in the world. My name is Jamie, and I’m one of the co-founders of Safeopedia. Today, we’re proud to present “How to Build a Stronger Safety Culture with Solid Reporting.” This Safeopedia webinar has been made possible by eCompliance. At Safeopedia, our goal is to support the EHS professionals, the operational folks, and really any safety-minded individuals, through free educational content, tools, and resources. We would really like to thank those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce to you today’s presenters. It will be Josh Lebrun and Bryan McWhorter. Josh is president and COO of eCompliance, a leading provider of EHS management solutions designed to improve worker participation and safety. He’s responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations and heads the customer success team to ensure the successful on-boarding, orientation, support, and training of safety professionals throughout North America. With over 500 clients across the manufacturing, construction, utilities, and energy industries, Josh has seen firsthand which elements shape a strong safety culture. With many years of experience in the health and safety software space, he is considered an advisor and mentor on industry trends, best practices, and is a member of the National Safety Council’s Young Professionals Division.
Bryan is a productivity expert and safety professional with numerous years’ experience in driving and teaching safety, leadership, and productivity tools. He gained his knowledge and experience as a safety officer and senior trainer for Philips Lighting at the largest lighting factory in the world. At that factory, where there are approximately 500 employees, he was involved in creating a successful safety culture, with the results being a 50% reduction in OSHA recordable accidents after the first year alone. He’s also authored 8 books in the productivity, lean thinking, and safety spaces. With that, Bryan and Josh, take it away.
Bryan: Thank you, Jamie. The way I ended up beginning my safety journey, the way I got into safety, is, as Jamie mentioned, I was a senior trainer for Philips. As the senior trainer, they came and asked me if I’d like to take over safety. Our safety manager had quit the previous year, and I, being concerned about safety, thought it would be a good fit. I was already providing a lot of the safety training, so I agreed happily. Then I started looking at our safety statistics. If you look at the picture showing on the screen right now, that’s pretty much the images that went through my mind when I started reviewing our safety statistics. I found out that we were averaging three accidents a week, that we had the worst safety record of all the factories globally, and to make matters worse, our factory had already been in operation for 40 years, so we had 40 years of bad safety practices that we would have to overcome.
What I found out with time was, kind of like Dorothy with the Wizard of Oz, we had the power to change it at any time. We just didn’t have the knowledge. Since I was already the senior trainer, and we already had a strong lean program going in our factory—we had already had everybody trained in lean thinking—we took a lean approach to safety. You always follow this formula, and that’s what we used. We look at where we’re at right now, so we get a clear understanding of our current condition, which, as I explained in the last slide in regards to safety—our current position was really bad. We came up with a vision of the ideal state. For us, it was to create for the first time, in our factory, anyway, a safety-first culture, where we truly valued safety. We decided to set targets of a 50% reduction in OSHA recordable accidents and lost-time accidents. For that third bullet, the plan to close the gap between the two, we didn’t have any. We knew what we needed to do. We knew where we wanted to go. But let’s face it. If we knew how to do it, we would have done it forty years ago.
Since we didn’t know what to do—and remember that the purpose of this webinar is to show how important data collecting and reporting is for this. The data collecting and reporting really showed us how to control behavior and how to close that gap. Again, we knew the first two. We knew where we were. We knew where we wanted to go. What we decided to do to close that gap was to bring [00:05:00] the entire factory on board. In the asset section, we had everyone trained in lean, and we had a management team that was truly committed to driving safety.
What they decided to do was turn safety over to the employees as much as possible. We realized that, when people come to work every day, they’re coming with the mindset of doing their job. They’re hired to do something. This is what they’re thinking about, not necessarily safety. If they are thinking safety, it’s just a small portion, like they might have to do a safety checklist before getting on their forklift, or this, or that. What we needed to do was infuse safety into all that the employees. We needed them to have ownership.
When I talk about safety to groups, I’ll often tell the story of a dragon slayer. When you look at slaying dragons, in terms of finding safety issues, unsafe conditions, unsafe behaviors, and fixing them, often we have only one dragon slayer, and that’s the safety manager. The problem with that is we have an infinite supply of unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors, of dragons. What we decided to do was make everyone in the factory a dragon slayer. We needed everyone to become a safety expert. We needed good information to do that.
That goes to that second bullet. We needed to increase transparency. If you’ve heard of glass wall management, we wanted to do this with safety. In 2008, when I took over safety, I could walk up to any employee and ask them questions like, “Do you know what our stats are for safety, in other words, how many accidents we’ve had this year? Do you know what our main accident is? Do you know how many OSHA recordables we’ve had? Do you know the main hazards in your area?” and I would get a blank look for any of these questions. The answer was they didn’t know.
What we tried to do was glass wall management, create basically the type of thing you would see at, say, a sporting event, where we have scoreboards. At any sporting event, next to what’s happening on the corner of the field, that scoreboard gets the most attention, because it drives behavior. We needed everybody to be looking for unsafe conditions/behavior, and to know and be involved in collecting data and reporting, to where they had that scoreboard. They knew where we were.
Okay, to start doing that, we knew that we needed to collect certain information. To prevent incidents and reduce risk, organizations should track and measure the following metrics. There’s more, but these give you, really, the main overview of what needs to be captured. If we look at that first bullet, incidents and near misses, these are the lagging indicators that tell us how we’re doing. Again, if we go back to that sporting scoreboard for a football game, it would tell you what quarter you’re in, how much time you have left, and again, the points on the board, but these are all lagging indicators. The boat’s already left the port. We need to now know how to control these.
That moves to that second bullet. These are now starting leading indicators. We need to train our dragon slayers to look for unsafe conditions and unsafe behavior, so we needed to train everybody on how to do inspections, hazard assessments, how to uncover those unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors. Okay, now once we get everyone doing that, then we’ve got to put those correction actions in place, so we go to that third bullet.
We have corrective actions that they’ve already done, and then we might have some outstanding ones. As we start going down this road, we’re closing the gap between where we’re at today and where we need to be, and we create a win list. In the large factory I was at, in 2009, our people on the floor and in the factory had actually completed over five hundred safety projects. That gave them immense feelings of accomplishment. We validated that by showing them on graphs how, as we completed more and more safety projects, our incidents and near misses went down. One graph line would track upward, which was showing the completed safety projects, and the accidents and near misses was going down. We were actually controlling those lagging indicators. We were validating that we were doing the right thing. We were using the information to control behavior, and it made everyone feel really good.
That employee training—when it comes to data collection and reporting, this is extremely critical for not only being able to accomplish a safety-first culture, but being compliant. This gets more and more complex when we’re talking about certification and training programs for work environments. [00:10:00] You might have bloodborne pathogens training, respirator, lockout/tagout, hot work permits, confined space. We need really good, direct data collection and reporting to stay on top of all this. We want to show that we’re really proactive in regards to safety, and this is important. It’s important to us, and it’s important to the employees.
Now, last one, worker participation—here is something that I found that was truly amazing with safety. In our factory and around the world, we were part of many different programs, driving lean, and all types of different initiatives. When it came to safety, for us at our factory, after forty years of not pushing safety, the hard thing was really getting people to buy into that this was legit. It was real. But once they believed it was, we had strong participation from everyone. There’s something about safety to where we want to protect each other. No one wants to see someone get hurt, so it is probably the only initiative where I saw pretty much 100% participation. We rewarded that. We validated it.
One of the things we did was, for every worker who was part of a safety project, we gave them a safety T-shirt. Every year, we designed a new T-shirt, and when they did a safety project, they got a new shirt. The neat thing about that is, when I left the factory in 2014 for my own pursuits, you could walk across the factory floor, and about thirty to forty percent of the workforce was wearing safety T-shirts, walking billboards, showing how important safety was. We were keeping momentum going.
Okay, we need to realize the psychology of why we act the way we do. People do not want to get hurt, but they don’t want to fail. We all are performance-driven. What we need to do is switch or elevate the importance of safety. That second bullet there—we will often put ourselves at risk physically to protect ourselves emotionally. If we look at the triad of emotional lead, we see that we are motivated by the desire for reward, the avoidance of pain, and the conservation of energy. That’s trying to work against us when it comes to safety.
When it comes to physical safety, most people think they’re not going to get hurt, anyway. I can work on the equipment on the fly with the guard off. I can work at the elevated space without a harness. I’m not going to get hurt. They do this because, again, they don’t want to be the employee that shuts down equipment, that falls behind on the construction site. We want to be viewed as that person who can get things done. We’ve got to reverse this perspective of, “You know what? We want to protect them emotionally first, and then they’ll protect themselves physically.” We do that, again, by good data and good reporting.
The employees themselves have to be involved with this. They’ve got to be involved with doing the hazard assessments. They need to be dragon slayers. They need to be experts in their areas and see part of their professionalism as working safe. It’s a mindset that we want to weave into all that they do. We use that glass wall management so that they know, always, what’s going on in regards to safety. By the time I left the factory again in 2014, or for this matter at the end of 2009, if I walked up to any employee and asked them, “Okay, what’s the main type of accidents now in this factory?” they would tell me. “What’s our record right now for safety in regards to OSHA recordable accidents, lost time accidents?” They knew it. “What’s our target?” They could tell me. We had turned it a hundred degrees with our leading indicators, and it gave us the ability to control those lagging indicators.
Okay, with that, I’ll go ahead and turn her over to Josh.
Josh: I appreciate you having me on today. This is a topic that we find incredibly interesting. We talk about it with our customers consistently every day. In fact, I’ve been on the road the last few days in southern California, speaking with a number of our customers there about this very topic. It’s certainly timely. For me, my background is—I was on the board of a container shipping company. The CEO of that company was adamant about safety reporting. He started every single board meeting with safety reporting. It occurred to me that, even though he was adamant about ensuring that we, as a board, understood where the risks existed, his ability to actually demonstrate data and data analysis was still quite limited. He didn’t have the tools necessary, [00:15:00] and his ability to actually gather information from the field was quite limited. That’s what led myself and my partner to start eCompliance and to provide that for people.
When we think about safety, we liken safety to professional athletics. It’s a little bit of a weird analogy, but the way we think about it is, there’s a uniqueness about professional athletes, where their dedication and their drive pushes them to be the best in their sport. You have to think about that in the same way with your safety program. Is it okay for you to be an amateur when it comes to your safety program? Are you willing to just do what’s necessary to get by, or do you want to be a professional athlete? Do you want to be the best of breed and ensure that your safety program is not just meeting your industry requirements, but actually going way beyond that to be much better? Are you focusing on not just necessarily getting to zero lost time, but are you focusing on being best of breed, being best in your industry?
I think, to do that, your culture needs to reflect your desire to be the best. Everyone in your company needs to know that you, as the leader of the safety team, will accept nothing more than the absolute best safety program. What that means is that everyone needs to participate. Bryan mentioned this before, but it’s really true. Everyone has to be a part of the safety program. It doesn’t mean that everybody in your company needs to be going and doing inspections and doing audits, but it means that they need to be part of the conversation about safety. It’s not enough for you to have a one-way conversation where you’re telling people how to be safe. You need to be asking questions. You need to be creating a two-way conversation, so that the people that are actually at risk on a day-to-day basis are informing you of why they feel at risk. You need to be capturing that information and asking people why they feel unsafe and encouraging everyone to participate in that process.
If you’re going to be the best of breed, you also need to make sure that your information is best of breed. You need to be capturing that information to understand where the risk actually exists within the organization. There are two important ways to do this. You need to be focused on consistency, and you need to be focusing on the outcomes. You need to be focusing on what you’re capturing and what the outcome is of that information.
From a consistency perspective, you might have multiple sites, multiple locations that your company operates at. You might even have multiple safety teams. In fact, what we find a lot with our customers is, their company will do an acquisition or multiple acquisitions within the year, and every company that they acquire has a different safety program. As a result, there’s a lot of inconsistency on how they actually capture information and report on information to the executive team, to customers and other stakeholders in their business.
It’s very important that, with respect to all the areas of your safety program, you create consistency. What that means is, you need to create your forms. The ways that you actually collect information have to be consistent across your company. It’s not going to work if, in one site, you’re doing a site audit and collecting completely different information than another site. What you want to do is, you want to be able to compare the sites, because only when you compare the site can you actually start to see trends for information and actually start to see where risk exists in your company.
The second thing is around outcomes and focusing on capturing leading indicators. Bryan mentioned this before, and he’s absolutely right. You have to be focused on leading indicators. If the only thing that you’re spending your time as a safety team is collecting incident data and ultimately trying to produce a fancy report for executives about your incident data, you’re doing yourself a disservice, because you’re not actually affecting the outcome of that incident data. Your leading indicators are called leading indicators for a reason. The reason is because they’re a leading indicator to your incidents, and you need to be effectuating change within those leading indicators in order to change your incident rate.
The most important thing, when you think about your leading indicators, is, there are so many different types of leading indicators that you can capture, but you have to bucket them down. Bryan did a good job of bucketing those leading indicators. When we think of, for example, action items, you might be issuing a number of action items within your company, but could you tell me how many you’ve issued in the last six months? Could you tell me how many are still outstanding, that you haven’t completed yet, in [00:20:00] the last six months? Could you tell me which sites those action items are at, and which ones are doing a very good job of completing action items, and which ones are doing a poor job of completing action items? If you can’t tell yourself, your team, and ultimately your executive team, all of those things, then you’re not capturing the information in the right way.
The other thing might be, for example, audits and inspections. Oftentimes, we have both scheduled and unscheduled inspections and audits. What information are you actually capturing within those two areas? Are you collecting the right information, so that you can deliver a piece of data and a piece of information that allows you to remove risk within the company? If you’re not doing that, you really need to be thinking about your forms and whether they’re consistent across your organization, and ultimately what data you’re actually capturing.
That takes me to the next slide. You need to be able to interpret your data. It’s not enough to just capture the right information. You have to be able to interpret it in the right way. For example, on the left side of this screen right now, we have a chart. It looks a little bit odd, but what it actually is telling us is pretty interesting. On the left-hand side are all the different forms we’re using within the organization, and on the bottom row are all of the different sites that we have. The darker the image in the middle, the more fails we have on that particular site. What I can see here is a very simple way to say, “Hey, on a certain site, we have a number of fails, far more than other sites,” or we might start to see a pattern, where a certain form is failing a lot more than other forms.
You have to start to look at these trends, because finding the trends is the only way that you’re actually going to be able to figure out where the lowest-hanging fruit is in risk within your organization. What you’re really trying to do as a safety professional is to identify where risk actually exists. Ultimately, you have a finite amount of time and an infinite number of areas of risk, so what you’re trying to do is prioritize your time to deal with the highest levels of risk within your organization. If you don’t feel comfortable that you’re doing that right now, if you’re focusing on the wrong things, you’re actually doing yourself and your company a disservice, because there’s a lot more risk that exists in the company that you’re not actually actioning upon right now.
Building information and charts from that leading indicator data helps you to make decisions and helps you to communicate those decisions to other people, which is my next slide, which is probably the most important thing in all of this. It would be incredible if you could capture all of the information, if you could analyze all of that information and put it into visual depictions that you could share with people, but if you’re not sharing or communicating that information to the right people, you’re not going to be able to effectuate change within the organization. You have to socialize all of your findings.
If you find, for example, that in your leading indicator data, the people that are at highest risk are the ones that have only been at your company for the last six months and the ones that are working your night shift, you need to be able to communicate that to other people. It’s not enough to just communicate it. You need to be able to prove to people that that risk exists. Oftentimes, when we find risks within the organization, we communicate that risk, but we don’t do a very good job of communicating how much risk actually exists and what the cost of reducing that risk is. What you really need to do is, you need to communicate to the right people where the risk exists in the organization, and ultimately what controls you want to put in place to reduce that risk. If you’re communicating the right data, and you identify the controls that you can put in place, you can then go ask for a budget to execute on those controls. People are going to recognize, your operations team or your finance team, whoever it is that controls the budget within the organization, is going to recognize, that you actually have a solution that you’re going to put in place, and there’s going to be a marketable risk reduction as a result of the things that you’re doing.
You have to really understand. Do the controls that you’re trying to put in place require a budget? If they do, you need to socialize all of the information that you’re capturing and communicate that to the right decision-makers within the organization.
Those are four ways that you can create better best practices for data collection and reporting. All of this is really a part of a continuous improvement process. You’re identifying the potential risks within the organization. You’re creating the controls that you can [00:25:00] produce to reduce that risk, and ultimately, you’re spending your time, which, again, is finite, on the most important things. You’re driving continuous improvement, and as Bryan mentioned, the results of that continuous improvement, the results of the leading indicators, are a reduction in your lagging indicators, and ultimately a better culture within your organization.
An example of this is a company called Lisbon Valley. It’s one of our customers. They’ve been a customer of ours for a long time now. They started to put in leading indicators and started to start measuring those leading indicators, and they’ve had some incredible results from their efforts. It’s not that challenging. A lot of people get worried when they start talking about leading indicators, because they don’t know how to actually measure it, and they don’t know how to capture the data appropriately, but when you start to do it, and you start small, and you start with just a few leading indicators, you’ll find that there’s some pretty marketable changes that you can make within the organization. Lisbon Valley is just one example, and actually, they’ve received some accolades for some of the progress that they’ve made. But this is not something that you can’t do within your company. Everybody has the ability to do it. It’s just a matter of sitting down and producing a plan for being able to do that.
With that, I will end my portion of the presentation, and we can start with questions.
Jamie: All right, thanks, Josh. Thanks, Bryan. Yeah, we had a few questions come in during the broadcast here. We’ll start with the first one, Dan, “How often should I be reviewing and updating my inspection forms?”
Josh: I don’t mind taking that one. I don’t think you want to review and update them too often, because when you do that, you create inconsistency amongst all the data that you’re trying to capture. What we generally say is a best practice is to look at your forms on an annual basis, because you can collect quarterly data, so you have four periods of time to see trends and information, and then, if you want to make changes to those forms to collect different data, you can, again, see quarterly data for the next year. We would say to at least take a look at them. You don’t have to make changes, but take a look at it on an annual basis.
Jamie: All right, thanks for that, Josh. Allison asks, “We have a little bit of an issue with communication at our company. How can I improve two-way communication between field workers and management?”
Josh: Bryan, do you want to take that one?
Bryan: Yeah, actually, there are a lot of ways to do this. Mobile reporting is a great way to go after it, but a lot of this really is that culture mindset, where you’re elevating safety in all that people do. I love Josh’s analogy to sports, to a world-class athlete. We need people to really see safety as important, and that’s what creates that dialogue. It doesn’t really matter if you’re talking across one building or someone who is, say, on a construction site, or out doing something where they’re in a different location. You really have two elements. You have, one, kicking up the desire or the need, so you want that dialogue, and you want safety to be very important. That second element is, you want to make it extremely easy to do. I say, for any work bencher to be really successful in these three elements, simplicity, directness, and engagement—you want to make communication as simple as possible, so everything from using mobile devices like smartphones or whatever, and by direct, I mean you want direct lines of communication. You don’t want layers of red tape. You want the people that they need to get in contact with—you want them to have access to it, like open-door policies. That third one, engagement, is actually proof that you nailed the first two. When you see that you have good communication, then you know you nailed it with your simplicity. Complexity, at least, is self-sabotage. We procrastinate, and we avoid things that are complex, and that directness makes it very easy for them to do it. You’ve got to start by kicking up the importance of safety. It’s got to be like that professional athlete. It’s woven into everything we do. Then make it very easy.
Now, when you hit that, all of a sudden, when the communication is not there, then it stands out, because it’s in our human nature to want to communicate. We’re social beings, so I would say when there’s no communication, you should be able to pinpoint why. Either it’s not important, [00:30:00] safety, in this case, is not viewed as important, or you don’t have that simplicity or directness. It’s too hard. It’s too difficult for people to make contact with someone. You need it to be easy and direct. Does that help you?
Jamie: Great answer, Bryan. Thanks for that. Rodney’s got a couple here, but we’ll start with the first one. “What is your take on prevention through design, and do you feel safety is a profession or a practice?” What is your take on prevention through design?
Bryan: I’d like to start with it and then turn it over to Josh. That is so important, and it is a big subject. If you’re familiar with fault tree analysis or potential problem analysis, companies that are designing equipment, airplanes—we’re trying to look at failsafes. We’re trying to anticipate materials, operations that can fail, and designing them for safety, so that is continuous, and it’s always going on. It’s extremely important. As far as profession or practice, both. I’ll go back to Josh’s statement on the athlete. What we need to do is elevate safety in all that we do. For us, in some of the factories that I was at, we spread this globally. I was able to go to many of the Philips factories in China and Mexico and spread these same things that we’re talking about today. You want, in the design phase, them using fault tree analysis, potential problem analysis, but then you want everyone, also, in the factory or employees, wherever, contributing to that by having safety on their mind. Professional, yes, and as a normal practice, yes, also. Josh, anything you’d like to add to that?
Josh: Absolutely. The only thing I would add to that—I think that’s a great answer, Bryan—is, we believe that all incidents are preventable, but it’s a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, you can prevent all incidents by just having machinery and having no people, so you therefore have no more incidents that would come about as a result of any sort of human error or anything like that. On the other end of the spectrum is full risk, and that would be no design, no engineering related to safety whatsoever, and you’re just expecting that people are going to make the decisions for themselves, and ultimately don’t want to get hurt, and as a result will just make those decisions to not get hurt.
I think it’s somewhere in between, and what I believe is that designing the process to reduce risk in the most effective way is the only way to really reduce incidents, but you can’t understand how to do that if you’re not capturing data to understand where the risk exists within the design. Definitely, prevention through design is incredibly important, and where you sit on that risk spectrum is based on the amount of data that you have on the level of risk within your organization. It comes back to the ability to capture information and ultimately to put controls in place, based on that information you have.
Jamie: Thank you both for that. Gerald asks, “How important is the role of a system or process, and do you have any tips?”
Josh: I would go back to the last question, which is, having a system or process in place is incredibly important. It needs to be repeatable, and by producing a repeatable process, you’re removing a lot of the risk that exists when either decisions are made outside of that process or when you’re introducing new factors that could potentially add risk to the process. I would say a process is incredibly important. I would go back to what I said earlier, which is that, in order to improve the process, you need to be always measuring how successful that process is and where the risk exists in that process.
Jamie: Gerald clarified for me. My reading skills aren’t as polished as I thought. How important is the rollout of a system or process, so the implementation piece, versus the system itself?
Josh: Oh, I think it’s very important, but you can get stuck in iterating the rollout before you do it. Ultimately, I think what you need to do is always be measuring. You roll out the process. [00:35:00] You measure for improvement. You put controls in place, and then you continue to roll out new aspects of the process that reduce risk. I think it’s very important. The rollout is very important. We don’t want to start with a lot of risk, but eventually you do have to roll out, and you do have to measure very quickly, after that, where risk actually exists.
Jamie: Awesome. All right, Mitch asks the question, “Which metrics should I start tracking to measure the effectiveness of my safety training program?” Great question.
Bryan: Actually, everything that we had, in terms of the lagging indicators—depending on what your training was on, we want to look at both the positive and the negative. Are they following the precepts, the processes, that you outlined in the training? Your lagging indicators, definitely—it’s like those points going up on the scoreboard, but also, are they identifying those unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors? If your training, say, was on hazard assessments, or even on how to drive forklifts, are they doing their safety inspections? Are they doing the things you outlined? What you want to do is, right after the training, you want to be hopefully set and following those leading indicators, and as Josh has talked about, collecting good data to verify. We’re performance-oriented, so you want to be able to show employees that “Not only was the training successful, but here’s what we’ve seen since that training. You’re following the right procedures. You’re collecting the information showing that you’ve captured these unsafe conditions, these unsafe behaviors.” You’re showing that you value what they’re doing.
Employees understand that management only invests in what’s important, so you’ve already invested in the training, so that’s validating it, but now you’re following up on it, showing that it wasn’t a one-and-done kind of thing, that you’re weaving this into the culture. Good question. Hopefully that answered it.
Jamie: Do you guys think that there’s questions or things that you should prioritize, different kinds of leading indicators, like when you’re rolling out a new health and safety program, and you’re launching it? Are there leading indicators that you should start with, or is it different for each company? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Bryan: For us, in the way we did this with the factories around the world, for us, at that first factory I was at, we had the worst factory for safety globally. By 2011, we received their global safety award for the best factory for safety. What I always tell management teams—and this is what I love about working with, say, Josh and eCompliance. They have the framework to make all this possible. Where I’m talking about what needs to happen, they have the stuff that you need to support it, the information. I always tell businesses that it begins with a commitment to safety. You’ve got to make that commitment that safety is going to be number one. Now we’ve got to identify the leading indicators, which are in regards to safety and behavior, really. It’s snap decisions, complacency, and just that not looking for safety, thinking performance first. Really, it’s that commitment to safety to begin with.
Josh: The only thing I would add to that is, “Don’t try to do too much at the beginning.” If you’re rolling out a new safety program, the leading indicators that you can measure might not be as granular as a program that’s been out for five, ten years, and has been measuring information for a long period of time. You might want to just measure, for example, how many people in the organization require training, versus how many people have been trained. You might want to measure, for example, like I mentioned earlier, how many action items have been completed, how many are outstanding, and how many have not been accepted yet. You might want to measure whether or not inspections that have been scheduled are actually being completed or not. Those are basic leading indicators that can actually tell you a lot about your safety program and can tell you a lot about the commitment within the organization at various locations within the company, without having to get too granular on the specific questions within the audits or inspections that you’re actually doing. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Start with the basic ones, and once you’re getting good information and good data, start to add leading indicators from there.
Bryan: [00:40:00] Great advice.
Jamie: Yeah, great advice, and great question, Fred. Dan asks, “Can you go over some specific examples of leading indicators?”
Josh: Well, I’ll just talk about leading indicators for a second, because I think there’s a little bit of a misnomer of what it is, and people get a lot of anxiety, because on a lagging indicator basis, it’s very specific. You have a trip rate, and it’s a very measurable item, and you can report on it, and the insurance industry wants it, and OSHA wants it, whatever it might be. On the leading indicator side, I think it’s a little bit more ambiguous for people, but we have to think about, “What is an actual leading indicator?” As I mentioned before, a leading indicator is a leading indicator of risk. You have to look at your own business and say, “What are the things that could identify risk within the organization?” A perfect one is training, and it’s so basic. If your people are not trained on the machinery that they’re using or the process that they have to go through as part of their role, there’s going to be risk that they’re going to do it incorrectly, and they’re going to actually get hurt, or they’re going to do it incorrectly, and you’re going to get damage to equipment.
When you think about training, your number of employees that are appropriately trained for their role is a leading indicator of risk. If you’re measuring the number of employees that are appropriately trained for their role, that’s a leading indicator. If as part of your company, you need to do inspections on the workplace to ensure that the workplace is appropriate for people to work at, whether those inspections have been done or not is a leading indicator of risk in the workplace. Just measuring whether that inspection has been completed is a leading indicator. But you can get more granular. You’ve done an inspection, and from that inspection, you’ve issued a corrective action to somebody to actually change something to reduce the risk. Well, now you have another leading indicator. We call internally—instead of corrective actions, we actually call it risk reduction activities. What are you actually doing? You’re doing an activity that’s going to reduce risk within the organization.
Let’s think about that. If you’re not doing that activity, you’re clearly not reducing risk within the organization. How many of those risk reduction activities are being completed? That’s a leading indicator. You can get more granular, not only “How many are being completed?” but “In what time frame are they being completed?” If it takes you a hundred days to complete a corrective action, that’s a pretty high level of risk that you’re allowing the organization to have. If you reduce that days to complete corrective action from a hundred down to two, you’ve clearly reduced risk within the organization. Time to complete corrective action is also a leading indicator of risk within the company.
You really have to look at where risk exists in your organization, and ultimately what leads you to reduce that risk.
Bryan: Good answer, and that’s really what we followed. As Josh said, when it comes to leading indicators, training is a leading indicator. You’re looking for, any time you’re doing hazard assessments—if you’re familiar with 5S + 1, every shift having people look in their environment for trip hazards, things of this nature—those are leading indicators. I love, Josh, your comment on how quickly you respond to your hazard assessments—again, great leading indicator. The more you’re able to make your leading indicators black and white, and have this like that scoreboard, where people can see the information easily—I mentioned that in 2009, our main factory had completed five hundred projects, a tremendous leading indicator when it comes to safety. We were able to show the correlation between, for every project that was done, they identified, say, something on Monday, had it completed, if possible, on Tuesday—those departments had the highest level of impact on their lagging indicators. We had one entire department go a full year with no accidents, and they previously had been one of the worst departments, and we had an entire shift go a full year without. I think Josh nailed it there. You need to be black and white with what you’re tracking to make sure that people understand it.
Jamie: Yeah, thank you guys for that. I’m going to roll a few questions into one here. They’re all around the safety culture management buy-in factor. Bear with me if you need me to go through one at a time, Josh and Bryan, but there’s some good theoretical questions from Rodney. “Is safety a profession or a practice? Is it a cost center or a profit center?” Moe chimes in and says, “In the past, I’ve had challenges getting management buy-in for new safety [00:45:00] initiatives. What kind of reporting should I be showing them to help support my initiatives?
Bryan: Great questions.
Josh: Great questions. I don’t mind starting off. There’s a lot in there. I’ll start with a cost center or a profit center, because this is one that we hear a lot. It really depends on how you treat safety. If you really look from a culture perspective that safety is getting in the way, and there’s a cost to safety, and it’s reducing the company’s profitability, then you’re going to be looking at it as a cost center, and the organization and the executive team is going to be looking at it as a cost center. But ultimately, all of the data out there—if you look at the studies, all of the data out there actually says that improved safety programs improve the profitability of companies. In fact, there’s a story that goes around the safety community about Paul O’Neill, who was the CEO of Alcoa, actually one of our customers, who, when he came in as a CEO, said that he wanted to improve the safety program, and that was his number one priority. All of the financial analysts and Wall Street thought he was crazy. He didn’t want to talk about profitability. He didn’t want to talk about anything else. He wanted to talk about safety. The reason why is because he knew that, if he improved the safety culture, he would improve the ability for the company to actually create more value for shareholders. One of the ways that he did that was, he told everybody in the company—he gave everybody in the company his home phone number and said, “If you’re having a problem, if you suggested a safety improvement, and your manager does not want to help you out with that, give me a call at home, because it’s incredibly important that we execute on these initiatives.”
What that did was, it created a dialogue between the management and the people that were at risk on a day-to-day basis. What does that do? Okay, now you’re talking about safety, but because you have that dialogue, people feel more comfortable suggesting improvements within the organization. There was actually a case where, at one of their plants, they had an employee who made one suggestion that actually improved profitability by 20% at that plant.
What you do is, when you’re creating this better culture, you’re actually creating a better two-way communication between management and employees, which really helps the organization be much more effective, and I think it’s beyond that. What you need to do is convince executives that safety is going to be a benefit to the organization, and not just a cost to the organization.
One of the reasons why people have been very challenged to do that in the past is because the safety teams have never had data that they could bring to an executive team to say, “I’m reducing risk. There’s a tie between the risks that we have from a safety perspective and your equity as an executive team, and we’re going to reduce risk, so that we reduce risk that your equity is going to be reduced over a period of time.”
Look at BP. When BP had the oil spill in the Gulf, equity value of the company went down by $50 billion because of that one incident. When you think about that, the executive team should be thinking about safety. They should always be thinking about safety, because it directly impacts them and their shareholders. If you can create that conversation with the executive team, and you can use data to show that that’s the case, you can really change the executive team’s mindset from being a cost center to a profit center.
Bryan: What a great answer, and I would mirror that. I think, at Philips, we saw the exact same thing. When you show that you value safety, you’re really saying that you value people, and you’ll find that performance and everything really improves along that line.
Jamie: I guess that really does answer the question of the challenge of getting management buy-in. Bryan, I’ve heard you speak about that before. What can you do if you’re down on the workforce, whether you’re a supervisor or on the tools, and management isn’t quite seeing it? Maybe they see it as more of a cost center. What can you do? Can you show them reports or give them examples of things that might help the charge or the cause?
Bryan: Absolutely, and that’s why I was excited about being in this webinar today. I think Josh has, with eCompliance, everything. That is what drives behavior. If you’re talking about that athlete on the football field, they need to be able to look and see that their efforts are putting points up on the scoreboard. This is a problem that I see very often. I’ve been able to visit and help drive safety, like I said, in China and in Mexico. You have to get to where [00:50:00] management makes that commitment to safety. If management isn’t committed to safety, then you’re not going to drive safety. You need that leverage. Everybody loves that—we joke that our favorite radio station is WIIFM, “what’s in it for me.” We really have to show them that safety is a core value that everyone needs to embrace, and it will make—the rewards are so phenomenal.
I talked about it. There are three levels for safety, and it’s important for managers to understand this. Those levels of safety, all three, need to be followed. The first one is professional. The second one is emotional, and the third one is physical. If someone thinks that their job is at stake, they can’t shut down equipment, they can’t fall behind at the construction site, they’ll take risks to protect their job. Emotionally, if they don’t feel safe emotionally, that their butt’s going to get chewed for falling behind or high shrinkage levels or whatever, they’ll take risks to protect their reputation, to protect themselves emotionally. Once managers protect people professionally, “We value safety. Take the time to do it the right way. We value you as a person. We value you emotionally. You’re not getting chewed out for taking the time for lockout/tagout,” then they’ll protect themselves physically. Usually, remember, everything we do comes under people and processes.
I love your story, Josh, about Alcoa with that individual. The Gallup organization has done a lot of studies that uncovered this very same thing. When you focus on safety and people, almost all engagement and all your metrics improve, profitability, shrinkage, downtime, say, in a factory setting. Everything improves.
Josh: Bryan, that’s absolutely right. The other part of the question is about profession or practice, and I don’t want to skirt the question, but I really kind of look at it both ways. It’s a profession within the safety team. It is a profession, because you’re putting processes in place. You have a job that requires you to analyze information and put controls in place, and ultimately execute on change management within your organization. That’s what makes it as a profession, but it’s a practice across the organization. Even if you have the best safety team, you have the best data analytics, you have the best intentions, if the rest of your organization is not willing to buy into the safety culture as a practice, you’re not going to get very far. I look at it as both things within the organization.
Bryan: I couldn’t agree more. I needed to know you back in 2008, Josh.
Josh: We can’t go back in time, but we know each other now.
Bryan: I know, that hindsight.
Jamie: All right, guys, we have a quite specific question here. “Can you please advise if near miss is a leading or lagging indicator?”
Bryan: Near miss is a lagging indicator. It’s where there was almost an accident. Now, the good side, the silver lining, in this is that it uncovered an unsafe condition or behavior without blood on the floor, but it’s something still that already happened. You definitely want to address it, and actually, this is something that OSHA or most governing agencies that monitor safety are going to want to know that you’re tracking. It’s a lagging indicator, but it’s a very important one. Are your employees telling you or reporting near misses, and are you capturing them? It’s a lagging indicator, but it’s a very important one.
Josh: We actually think of near misses as being both. It’s a lagging indicator of risk, and it’s a leading indicator of incidents. Ultimately, regardless of whether you call it a leading or a lagging indicator, it’s still incredibly important to measure. You need to be measuring it, and if you’re refraining from measuring it because you consider it a lagging indicator, or if you’re refraining from measuring it because to you it’s a leading indicator, and you find it difficult, you’re still doing your company a disservice. You need to be measuring it, regardless of what you call it.
I’d say the same thing about restricted duty. You need to be measuring it, regardless, even though it is a lagging indicator of risk. You need to be measuring everything that you could possibly measure, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to find correlations within the data that help you make decisions.
Bryan: Good answer.
Jamie: Awesome. We have a question here. This is Tim. “Should I have a quarterly or annual participation goal in place, and what criteria should I use when setting that goal?” [00:55:00] Great question.
Bryan: “How are you measuring participation?” would be my question.
Josh: This is part of the things that we focus on, on a daily basis, the ability to measure participation within the employee base. When we think about participation, we’re thinking about who is adding data to your health and safety program. Whether that is they’re taking training, whether it means they are filling out inspections for you, whether it means they’re doing a hazard assessment, whatever it might mean, as they are adding information to your health and safety program, they’re participating in the health and safety program. The participation rate is really around, of all the employees that theoretically could be adding information into your health and safety program, how many are actually doing that on a daily basis, or not even daily—how many are doing that on a monthly or a quarterly or annual basis? That’s your participation rate. There are studies out there that show this. The more people that add information to your health and safety program, that participate in your health and safety program, the better your outcomes are.
Bryan: Absolutely, good answer.
Jamie: Bryan, I’ve heard you talk a little bit about that, where at the plant, you’ve literally had the traffic lights and the scoreboards, where every single person can see them, outside the building, inside the building. They’re always available. I love that analogy of, if you’re sitting at a football game or at a soccer match, and there’s no scoreboard, there’s not going to be that engagement. Nobody’s going to care.
Bryan: Really, Josh nailed it. We did it exactly as he described. We looked at—for us, in a lot of our factories, we had self-directed work teams, so we looked at—that gave us a way to narrow the scope. If you have twenty people on a team, are all twenty involved? Are they going to safety team meetings? Are they involved in turning in reports on hazard assessments? We had lots of ways to measure it, but I love your answer. I think it’s right on. It’s so important. We need to always be able to gauge engagement. To me, it shouldn’t surprise me, but I thought it was so phenomenal to see that safety was the one thing that we got everybody really in agreement on. People that were maybe grumpy employees, that didn’t like to contribute in some ways, were all on board for safety. It was great.
Jamie: Now, I see we’re getting a little bit late on time here. We do have one more—there’s a few more questions, but I really want to be respectful of everybody’s time on the line, and Josh and Bryan’s time, so let’s take this question. “How often do you recommend to recognize the team?” This is a great question that we get all the time, safety barbecue, safety pizza incentive—how many times a year, and what do you measure, depending on what indicators? Great question, Anna.
Bryan: That is so important. The average employee, all of us know that our bosses, management, recognizes what’s important to them. If I do something, and no one notices it, then the underlying message is that it wasn’t important. For us, because we had self-directed work teams, which we created through lean, we told the teams. We encouraged them to really celebrate safety as often as possible. They would look at several different safety metrics. They might tell the team, “Okay, every time we have a new major win with, say, a safety project, we’ll put cookies in the break room for you. We’ll put your picture up on a board.” When we started in 2009, we had steak dinners for every time the factory went without an OSHA recordable for a month. We did all types of things, but the main thing is, remember, everything that they do towards safety is a win. And you have to show that, on some level, you draw a line in the sand. What I would say is, there’s no one size fits all. You’ve got to know your culture and what’s important to them. I noticed what we did was different in Kansas, versus what our factories did in Mexico, for their culture, but we were all celebrating safety a lot, celebrating the accomplishments of the employees.
Josh: That’s great, Bryan. I completely agree with that, and I would say, the more you can measure, the more goals you can set, and when you achieve your goals, you can celebrate them.
Josh: Always celebrate wherever you can. It creates a culture of safety. It creates a culture of [01:00:00] excitement around the things that you’re trying to accomplish with respect to safety. I would say, “Celebrate wherever you can.”
Bryan: We have actually created situations specifically so that we could celebrate and get the ball rolling, in other words, some low-hanging fruit.
Josh: That’s great.
Jamie: All right, well, I know we’re just a little bit over time here. There are a few questions left. Dan, Jennifer, Rodney, and a few others here, what we’ll do is, we’ll get your questions over to Bryan and Josh, and they can follow up with you guys directly, if that’s okay with you. Josh and Bryan, any parting words?
Bryan: I’ll talk—first of all, what a pleasure. Thanks. I love working with Safeopedia, and Josh, what a phenomenal service you guys provide. Everything we do, again—we’re performance-oriented. It drives our behavior. That scoreboard—that’s what it all comes down to, so I love that you are giving away, for people to approach this, simple, direct, that engages people. Thanks for having me today.
Josh: I would also echo, I really appreciate it, Jamie. We love working with Safeopedia. Bryan, it’s really a pleasure to listen to you, as well, as somebody that’s so accomplished within the safety world. It’s always great to learn off of you. I appreciate that. If anybody wants any more information about the things that we’ve been talking about for the last hour, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re always open ears about your comments and happy to answer any questions that you have.
Jamie: Yeah, I echo both of your comments. It’s great working with you both, always learning. It’s very humbling to sit and just receive, two ears, one mouth, and I’ll tell you, with you two, it’s a lot of learning, fire hose style. I’d really like to thank everybody for attending today’s webinar. We appreciate you not only registering, but attending—great turnout. And with everybody, thanks again. Take care and stay safe.