Welcome

I am new to blogging, so this will take a while to get the hang of.  This blog is actually in response to criticism about my lack of online footprint.  Rather than give LinkedIn all the glory of my thoughts in posts, I started this and EHS411.com.  -It’s not like I don’t have time being recently restructured.

This blog is a less professional approach than LinkedIn.  This means you may find posts on chemical safety related to gardening, discussion on my boys sliding down a banister, true questions I have on EHS items, or I may explore an unpopular opinion on EHS issues.

If I have to behave, so do you.  Comments and constructive criticisms are welcome as we all have room to improve, but also the right disagree!  Grammar Nazis, personal attacks, and spam links will be handled.

I am open to guest bloggers (1,000 words or less) and always give credit where due.

Thank you for visiting and I look forward to lively discussion!

Safety Culture Steering Part 2; Give a Damn

Giveadamn

If you haven’t read the primer for this post, please click here.

So how does one get management to genuinely give a damn? Honestly, it starts with a bit of education. When first starting at a location (or when you finally get your act together) you will be doing gap analysis and training has always been low-hanging fruit in my experience.  Seasoned EHS folks worth their salt have a bit of a training library built that just needs master slide conversion. Before you train the employees, it is important to get the information to management. Just 5-10 minutes during each daily meeting can get it done.

Why train management first? If EHS says it’s safer to tie your left shoe before your right shoe and your manager gets on you to do the opposite, it looks like no one has their ducks in a row. This will be painfully obvious to those you want to buy-in. How will change begin if the basics are not understood by leadership?

During this time, employees have not been fully trained and EHS should be coordinating with operations to get it done. Managers will understand the why of the training and this could lead to flare-ups of enforcement action for what has yet to be communicated to their folks.  This is not the time to pounce on workers not complying unless it’s a pre-established and pre-enforced rule or puts them/others in immediate jeopardy.  Gentle, patient nudges in the right direction will get safety integrated in the meantime.  -Equipment down times, power outages, pre/post-shift meetings, etc. will get training accomplished in bite-sized pieces.  Working with management on bulk training times may also mean EHS sets up at 3:30am for a 4am training depending on when shifts start.

<gasp>

That early?!? -Suck it up, cupcake and just go on night shift.

Finally: DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, TRACK AND POST FOR LEADERSHIP! If you skipped someone on vital training, it is better caught in the tracking program/document than if OSHA shows up.

Like this post or just curious what I may post after using a 4-letter word in a blog post title?  Click here for #3 in the series.

Safety Culture Steering Part 1

Steer

Much has been written on safety culture.  I do not profess to have all the answers, but I can discuss my own approach to such a complicated issue.

According to OSHA, “Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment.  Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.”  Once a location has been operating for a while, all aspects of this belief system have worked their way into production.  Sometimes this belief system integrates safety well. Other times, it has been ingrained that safety takes too long and is a pain to deal with.  -Who needs that?!?

Creating a safety culture is for new companies.  Most locations already have one, warts or no.  Safety culture is not something you can effectively change with disciplinary action.  -That only causes a complete stop in accident reporting for all but the most serious accidents due to fear and is a bandaid solution.  The problem is still there, you just can’t see it.

If you’re on the interstate doing 65 MPH you don’t jerk the wheel.  So how do you change it?  Safety culture takes time to evolve.  Culture change first requires management genuinely giving a damn.  It also involves being hands-on, training people well, showing forgiveness, reinforcing policy, and patience. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to change your culture from “me” to “we” and get to know your people in the process, let’s talk more in Part 2.