Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How will you view safety in 2013?

Your safety program is mostly likely a compliance based program. Requirements set forth by OSHA and other safety regulators have defined the safety focus for most businesses - to comply with the regulations intended to keep those in harm’s way safe while on the job. My mission for the last three years, since the publication of Lean Safety, has been to change how people think about safety. My background as a lean champion freed me from the traditional view that a safety program is only a vehicle used to deliver compliance. My view is that you can also use your safety program to engage employees in the continuous improvement of safety, a proactive effort to reduce injury risk, and by doing that you can advance your lean efforts.
In 2012 I was given the opportunity to present the Lean Safety story to many people. My opportunities to touch people and change their view of safety ranged from organized events like workshops and conference keynotes to chance meetings on the golf course. If you know me, you know it is hard for me not to share my passion for I believe I can change how the world views workplace safety. In an attempt to change your thinking in 2013 I thought I would share a few comments from some of those I influenced in 2012.

In March and again in May I visited the UK to conduct 2-day Lean Safety workshops. Following are two comments from attendees.

“During your seminar, what I took away in particular was that if you observed the way people work (lean safety kaizen event), then this would lead to an improvement of not only safety, but also improvements in the process itself leading to lower costs and more effective operations”.

“From my point of view it was an extremely worthwhile exercise and certainly I got a lot from it personally and also some great improvement opportunities for the business”.

A week after a two-day Lean Safety event in Portland, Oregon a site lean champion noted:

“We had another safety kaizen this week in our paint and pack department and we used the tools taught during the workshop. The week prior (to the workshop), people were questioning why we were holding an event in the department. This week, we had to extend the event an extra day in order to complete all of the action items. We are learning how to see safety opportunities”.

A survey question from the same event (What is your biggest take away from this Executive Forum?) provided these responses:
• We can use our current monthly safety team walk to focus on a continuous improvement event for a specific area (deep vs. broad).
• Operator involvement is critical. Improving safety will more than likely improve the process.
• How to make safety and Lean come together.
• Don't blame the person, blame the process.

Late September I traveled to Australia where 2-day workshops were held in the Melbourne and Sydney areas. A survey question (What was your key learning?) resulted in these responses at the Sydney event.
• Make time to go look and see rather than react to an accident.
• Tools that can help to engage the workforce in thinking Lean Safety.
• Teamwork – go to the shop floor and invite others to share the safety journey.
• Tools to engage the workforce in safety improvement.
• Lots of tricks and tools to use when I return to work. Engage people!! Kaizen!!
• A structured process to target and remove potential injuries.
• Safety is a way of engaging workers in the lean culture.
• Putting safety first in improvement (efforts) rather than always focusing on productivity
• Use the operator’s knowledge on the (lean) journey.
• The power of engaging the workforce in identifying and implementing solutions.
• That I need to get the operators more involved and set aside time (for improvement efforts).

Responses from the Melbourne event survey question, what was the most effective part of the workshop, were:
• Focus on teamwork, engagement, respect and motivation
• Engagement and practical exercises
• Teamwork – lots of ideas!
• Applying lean to safety
• Shop floor observations
• Learning more about lean and how to be a better coach
• Going to the factory floor and actually seeing what can be improved
• Being in the workplace, working with people
• Practical part in the factory
• Being out on the floor, because it converts theory to practical application

Events were also held in Shanghai, China, Donetsk, Ukraine, Port Hope, Ontario, Mason, City, Iowa, Calgary, Alberta, Elmhurst, IL, and Chicago, IL. The feedback from the attendees is always as above. People learn to see safety differently and they leave with an understanding that their lean and safety success is dependent on engaging their workforce. I hope our paths cross in one of the Lean Safety events planned in 2013. Stay safe!

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