EHS: Safety, Production Perfect Together

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 @ 12:09 PM gHale


By Gregory Hale
Safety needs to be a part of the entire business discussion and not have it placed on the side as a separate entity.

“Safety strategy has to be a part of the business strategy,” said Shawn Galloway, president and chief operating officer at ProAct Safety during his keynote address Tuesday at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. “It is not safety versus production, it is safe production.”

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“Safety has not done a particularly good job in talking to the C-suite about ROI,” said Ed Foulke, partner at Fisher Phillips during his introduction of the keynote speaker. “We need to look at safety as a profit center and not a cost center. Our job will never be done. Even if we get to zero fatalities, we still have the next day.”

Part of being a part of the overall discussion of the business means safety professionals need to understand what they do and how they got there.

“People are willing to give us more, but our real role is to provide value,” Galloway said. “Are we capturing and delivering value? Zero injuries are just a byproduct of showing value. What are we doing to contribute to no accidents? Are people seeing the value in that? If you do your job in safety, does anyone know you are doing your job?”

In the end, safety is all about culture and creating the right atmosphere.

“The executive level has to be on the same page,” Galloway said. “You have to enhance thinking about what successful safety is all about. It is harder to stay there than it is to get there.”

Galloway told a story of a woman that worked at a manufacturing plant and she was getting ready to retire after 30 years. She told him the only safety discussion she ever had was “when I did something wrong. For once I would like to hear about something I did right.”

Safety Culture
Culture is what is common in a company. The problem sometimes with safety is if you go years without an incident, it could become easy to become complacent, or as Galloway said “semantic satiation.” That means saying and doing things over and over until it just blends in.

Part of creating a culture is to set up safety rules and explain why you do them.

“People need to understand why we are doing things,” Galloway said. “When it comes to making change, people will often accept change, but that comes with communication.”

When change does occur some of the reasons Galloway said why people don’t accept it is because:
• People don’t understand
• Don’t like the change
• Don’t like the people that bring the change

Before motivating workers about the change that is going on, you should work to understand the de-motivator. Once you establish the de-motivator, you can eliminate that and work to motivate.

Understanding safety is much more than reducing risk to keep workers safe, it is also about being a business enabler, Galloway talked about safety strategies and what safety would need to do to be a part of the overall discussion.

Strategy is a framework of choices, tradeoffs and small bets the organization makes to determine how to capture and deliver value, he said. Strategy, therefore, is how do we win by delivering sustainable value?

He mentioned ingredients to create a winning strategy:
• Success defined
• Who leads and manages safety
• Desired management style
• Roadmap to desired destination
• Selection/alignment of all safety/business programs
• Measurements of progress and value add
• Marketing plan
• Ongoing communications plan

Following those ingredients, you have to determine what success looks like. Where are you going? What does the data tell you?

Safety strategy choices:
• Customer value
• Narrative: What is the compelling rationale
• What is the scope: Budget, resources, time frame
• Vision of success
• Support or snipers: Who is on your side and who or what can catch you off guard
• Data: Business and culture, what can you leverage
• Strategic priorities: You need to focus; know what are the most important priorities
• Initiatives: Fit and support
• Alignment for execution
• Monitor value creation

Growing a stronger safety culture and then incorporating safety into the overall business discussion is like understand the difference between hazards and risk.

“Hazards are like sharks swimming in the water when you are standing on shore and can see them,” Galloway said. “Risk is when you go in the water. It is not about failing at safety, it is about achieving success.”