Search Results for: Quality

SCnSP – Safety and Quality

♦♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance.

SAFETY & QUALITY

(They go hand in hand)

Why do many companies link Safety and Quality, often co-ordinated by one department? There are a number of reasons, based on requirements / drivers that they have in common or are shared:

  • Adherence to defined and specific rules and procedures.
  • Involvement by and of everyone – the basis of efficient implementation of Safety and Quality systems.
  • Driven by a policy document developed by top management for unity of purpose and direction and audited against elaborate ISO and other international standards.
  • Need people to change their attitudes and behaviours to ensure customer needs are continually satisfied and employees are not injured or harmed.
  • Use professionals to support the business functions and many other shared factors.

But the real common denominator is ZERO = ZERO DEFECTS = ZERO HARM = ZERO TOLERANCE. I know ZERO is a hotly debated issue, but just consider the consequences if your surgeon did not have a ZERO mind-set or, for that matter, if Koeberg did not have a ZERO TOLERANCE approach!

graphic depicting common / shared requirements / drivers of safety and quality

There is also a more direct, physical link. It is, simply put, waste! Waste in all its forms: spillage and effluent, defective products, time lost being unproductive (from injuries, reworks, or time spent making defects). It is all money down the drain. Even if you can rework some of this waste, much of it still ends up on a waste dump, ultimately damaging the environment.

On top of that there is the cost of cleaning up, waste handling, attending to the injured, time taken to investigate causes of incidents and product non-conformities. You need bins and containers, fork lifts and trucks, storage areas and waste / effluent pits and enclosed spaces, plus lifting equipment, settling ponds and dumps with separation facilities.

The link to safety is the fact that to deal with waste you introduce the additional resources, equipment and facilities, with the associated new risks involved. This could be hazards like trip, slip and fall, confined spaces, working at heights and lifting equipment, especially when recycling or reworking. In order to protect against the health hazards, extensive PPE is often required.

Another direct link between Quality and Safety is created when a non-conforming part that is fitted, for example, to an aircraft could directly result in a safety disaster.

For Safety and Quality to be effective and sustained, organisations should focus on identifying the underlying causes of incidents or non-conformities and implement actions that eliminate the root causes of the non-conformities experienced.

ACTION

  • Change the Rework / Waste mind-set to ZERO WASTE. Make it a priority, like when working with extremely hazardous chemicals as in a nuclear plant.
  • Compile the real, total Cost (direct and indirect) of rework, recycling waste and waste handling activities and share with your EXCO and all employees.
  • Get the ‘Safety’ and ‘Quality’ teams together to find ways of working jointly to plan and run a ZERO TOLERANCE campaign.
  • Organise a competition to evaluate the amount identified in item #2 (Rand or tons) to encourage looking for opportunities to REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE

RELATED READING

“Zero Defect – Tracy Ackermann’s Plant” – from the book Life EduAction by Jürgen Tietz

Going to Waste

Fix Those Leaks

Your Paper Footprint – Environmental Murder?

RESOURCES

Moses Mudau, Head of QEHS Management at SABN
Master of Engineering (MEng), Industrial Engineering/Management

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SCnSP – Bums on Seats

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Feb 2018
     

Bums on Seats

getting bums on seats at the right safety training does affect the bottom line positively

The Bottom Line

     

I’ve been thinking lately about the eternal question of the ROI (Return On Investment) for safety and safety projects in particular. My conclusion is that there is no direct ROI for safety. What one can expect is a reduction in incidents, resulting in a lowering of costs in terms of losses (medical and damages). Most industries and organisations use the rear-view-mirror approach to determine the ROI for safety projects using injuries, lives lost (fatalities) and, often, loss of reputation (safety record) as criteria.

However, the bottom line impact is not any of the above, but culture. Safety is part of the overall culture of an industry or organisation. Safety is not a stand-alone entity. Safety means doing things in a safe manner, doing it right, first time and every time, avoiding injury, loss and waste. Safety means engagement, it means ownership of the process, rules, operation and controls, amongst others. You cannot get safety right without rubbing off on other aspects of culture, like behaviours, teamwork, problem-solving, a bias towards action, productivity, quality and so on. That is why the real ROI for safety is its impact on the bottom line.

There are many ways in which the culture in an organisation is established. Leadership visibility, by living out the vision and values, especially in terms of safety, is one of the most important. Another one is education and training and, therefore, empowerment. It is imperative to get bums on seats, especially with safety training and, again, here leadership support is imperative.

At Disruptive Safety, we focus on the frontline to influence the culture, by educating and empowering H&S Reps in terms of safety.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Dr Cathy Key, for inspiring this safety tip by her use of the line “Getting Bums on Seats, the Bottom Line”.
[www.confmanager.com]

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SCnSP – The Weak Signal

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Nov 2017
     

The Weak Signal

signals

     

We’re surrounded by signals all the time, from radio, TV, mobiles and, nowadays, wi-fi. It’s getting to the point where there’s so much noise that we only hear the louder, specifically-targeted messages. The weaker signals just get lost, unless we move to a better spot so as to hear more clearly.

This analogy applies to many relationships, whether it is in the family through parenting, or in organisations through leadership, or in politics (Gupta). When there is power, or a hierarchy, at play, the situation often becomes one-sided. The one who is in power talks and expects the others to listen – a case of “Do as I tell you.”

In an organisation, the leadership has the strongest signal. They have direct access to wi-fi and call centres, while the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ can only use the much weaker signals. The wi-fi is made up of policies, procedures, papers and all sorts of instructions. It’s all top down, one-way communication and often complicated by conflicting and inconsistent signals such as “Safety First and Zero Harm, but meet the Production, Costs, Quality and other Targets first”.

The Suggestion box, BBS observations, H&S Rep reports and other tools and techniques used to connect with the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’, are the equivalent of the call centre. You hear clearly: “Your call is important to us, and will be attended to shortly … For quality purposes the call will be recorded … We are currently experiencing high call volumes … Please hold … ”. In the end, the call is logged but seldom leads to ACTION.

The weak signals are always there, if we care to listen carefully. Everytime there’s an enquiry or investigation into a serious incident or injury, we hear these weak signals clearly. They often start with “We” followed by “told; observed; reported; requested; asked; complained; warned you” and similar action words. Often the organisation’s culture weakens the signals further by virtue of the fear of speaking up or taking a stand, all kinds of threats, blaming and shaming, a lack of action and priority or being taken seriously.
These weak signals require little effort to pick up on at the time but, if lost in the noise, can lead to serious consequences.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Take a careful look at the different signals inside the organisation. The Critical Success Factors for a better reception are:

  • Create a climate which rewards weak signals, even if they turn out to be false signals.
  • Make it personal with a name / photo.
  • Provide prompt, direct feedback.
  • Show that the weak signals are being taken seriously and are making a difference.
  • Give the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ a REAL VOICE – a voice which will be heard and taken seriously – a direct line to the CEO’s or MD’s. The climate will change dramatically. All employees, without exception, own a mobile device, often even a smart phone and are using free apps like WhatsApp. So what’s stopping YOU?

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SM – Mother’s Rules

♦♦♦    SAFETY MATTERS    ♦♦♦
Aug 2009
     

Mother’s Rules

     

The term health, safety and environment (HS&E) is used widely. We appoint HS&E, SHE, or H&S Representatives, but the quality of the ‘H’ component of our management systems is often very low.

At some of the companies that I have visited, heath and hygiene does not really feature in the agenda or the actions of management, representatives or workers, except in the HS&E policy pasted on the walls.

Would you like to be operated on in a hospital where the ‘H’ does not feature? I often see personal protective equipment (PPE) that could not protect the wearer and has even become a health risk in itself!

This self-imposed risk is especially true for the way that some workers treat their disposable PPE, like disposable ear plugs, disposable dust masks and gloves. Imagine your surgeon using soiled rubber gloves and contaminated face masks. Or imagine re-using condoms. No surgeon and no informed worker would do such things, yet some workers used soiled respirators and breathe contaminated air into their lungs!

disposable dust mask being reused

Workers should take good care of all their PPE. Disposable PPE should not be stored once it becomes dirty. Workers, supervisors, managers and HS&E specialists should discuss the long-term health risks of exposure to hazards like dust, bright light, low light, noise and hazardous chemicals. Where they do not have enough reliable information, they should call on specialists to provide information. Suppliers, hygienists and occupational health staff would be glad to assist.

Where workers, supervisors, managers and specialists find that they do not all agree on the nature or level of the risk, or on the best course for preventing loss, they should likewise call on specialists and investigate the occupational health issues until they reach agreement at all levels of the organisation.

Ten House Rules

To help raise awareness about health and hygiene, ‘H’, I use a cake of soap with Mother’s Rules printed on the wrapping:

Mother's Rules

These are basic ‘house rules’ about health that everyone should have learnt at home. Everyone, except mothers, tends to forget the rules from time to time. Perhaps mothers like repeating these rules because only fools would argue with them! Workers are legally obliged to follow health and hygiene rules.

Employers, like mothers, have many obligations too. Employers have to assess health risks and supply the soap and other appropriate cleaning material. They have to ensure a work environment free from health risks.

Health and hygiene management may be a matter of minor or mildly serious infections at home, but at work it could be a matter of serious infection, fatal exposure, or long-term exposure resulting in chronic disease.

Mothers use common sense to train young people how to avoid hazards at home. At work, the hazards are larger, more complex and there are more of them. Workers should not make the mistake of believing that common sense alone will save them from harm.

Employers have to make a special and continuous effort to find hazards, assess the risk to workers and visitors, make workers aware of the pathways of exposure, teach them how to avoid harm and provide the right PPE at the places and times where some exposure cannot be avoided.

Workers have the legal obligation to learn and follow these occupational health procedures. Where workers ‘forget’ or ignore the ‘house rules’, employers are dutybound to use discipline – in the spirit of love – just like mothers do!

Full PPE (1)Full PPE (2)

Operators wearing full PPE

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The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide

 

Picture: The Safety Rep's Survival Guide

The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide is a unique tool
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Picture: The Safety Rep's Survival GuidePicture: The Safety Rep's Survival Guide

  • 10 sections, covering 88 topics, including how to be an H&S Rep, the law in English, self-help, being proactive, behaviour, teamwork and problem-solving, in over 200 pages.
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  • Fun, interesting, educational, empowering.
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  • Access to a web site with over 100 “How To” guidelines.

 

 

For more information or to order this indispensable handbook:

SCnSP – What’s your real job?

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
May 2016
     

What’s Your Real Job?

(as a Safety Professional)

graphic with text I'm just asking

     

Frequently, when I contact safety professionals, I am told: “We are busy with audits” or “I still have to do the monthly report” or “I am in a safety meeting” or “We are preparing for the EXCO”.
So, my challenge to you, as a safety professional, is:
Describe your real job in a paragraph or two, as if you were a safety consultant and had to sell your services to interested parties.
Now ask yourself: Would you pay a safety consultant for only doing audits, collecting figures, sitting in meetings, producing reports and being a safety accountant?

I know. You have to satisfy the needs of senior management, because they control the resources – pay your salary and approve your budget. Yes, there are legal stipulations which you have to comply with, in terms of reporting and ensuring the safety of employees. Yes, there’s work to be done to get and maintain your accreditation. And yes, you have a job description, with key performance areas in auditing and reporting.

Nonetheless, ask yourself: Who are your real clients? Does all the reporting, auditing and graphs you spend so much time on improve the safety culture? How much of what you do positively affects the employees – the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ – directly? How much of what you do are ‘self-generated’ activities or distractions which you do because it seems the right thing to do?

Consider. If you are cook, what’s important is the meal you serve. If you are surgeon, what matters is your performance in the operating theatre. If you are speaker, your talk on the stage is what it’s all about.
Most professionals have to spend up to 90% of their time in preparing, ensuring quality, staying up-to-date and many other things. However, none of this matters if the meal is poor, the operation is botched up, or the talk makes no impact because we spent too much time on distractions, instead of the real purpose of our job.

Don’t allow yourself to get confused about which part of your job is really important, really worth your time, the actual point of the exercise, of providing safety support – the part which makes a real difference!

ACTION

Get clarity about what your real job is, then tackle it and deliver!

Look into the ‘integrity mirror’ and list your main tasks. Categorise them into Must Do (value-adding – someone is willing to pay for this), Nice To Have (not critical for safety) and Who Really Wants This (distraction / non-value adding).
If need be, go and rewrite your job description! You are the ‘safety cook’!

Ask the employees (not your managers):

  • How difficult are we making it for you to spend money on safety improvements?
  • How well are we listening, and reacting, to safety concerns or suggestions?
  • How easy is it for you to contact senior managers?
  • Do we give you permission to take action to make it safe?
  • How safety empowered are you and how do we know this?
  • What are we doing to improve and reinvent safety?
  • How good are our safety professionals?
  • What are we doing to support our SHE reps?
  • How much time are we spending on safety and how is that time spent?
  • How much of our safety efforts are re-active as opposed to pro-active?

RELATED READING

I’ve written about this issue a number of times, addressing it from different angles:

Mirror on the wall

Stretched thin

The illusion / paradox of control

I don’t have time

Safety first – really?

The best audits

What is your worth?

Under the knife

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SCnSP – Mirror, mirror on the wall

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Apr 2016

Do you use your safety mirror as a tool, or as a reflection of what you would like to see?

     

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL …

What is stopping me?

graphic depicting caller on the phone

     

Using a mirror in safety is nothing new. We’ve all seen the mirrors in toilets with the caption “Who is responsible for safety?”.

I’ve been using the metaphor of a mirror as a tool for many years. I hold up a mirror to the audience, asking them: “What do you see?“, followed by: “Is it good or is it bad and who is responsible?” [1]

I also use my ‘What Is Stopping Me‘ (WISM) Mirror to challenge people to look into the mirror and ask themselves that question! And what’s the answer? Usually, people will say “time”, or, “money”, or, often, both will be cited. But these are resource issues. The reality is that it is really a question of importance and priorities: you will always choose to spend time and money on things that are important to you.

There is of course another use for mirrors.
“Most people can’t resist a mirror. It makes the wait for an elevator more palatable, and we can’t help checking – how do I look? In many ways, though, this is futile, because we can never know how we look through other people’s eyes. Even the best quality mirror tells you very little. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to focus on this sort of grooming if you want to understand what customers or friends (or employees or leaders) are going to see. Far better to watch what they do.” [2]

This holds especially true for you as a safety professional. Are you looking into the safety mirror to see how your safety is doing? You should be rather spending time on your feet, talking to people. ‘Look to see’. The perception of employees and the leaders, is what you should be seeing.

ACTION

Take a good look, to see, how you are using your safety mirror? Do you use your mirror as a tool, or as a reflection of what you would like to see?

[1]    “How to put a face on safety

[2]    “The Foggy Mirror

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SCnSP – Your Call Is Important To Me

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Mar 2016

Phone etiquette is key to customer relations and, with the proliferation of ACD & IVR switchboards and mobile phones, it has evolved.  Has your corporate culture kept pace?

     

YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO ME

(Mobile) Connectivity

graphic depicting caller on the phone

     

The number you have called is not available. Please try again later.

I can’t take your call right now, I’m in a meeting.

I’m not available at the moment, but please leave your name and number, and I will call you back, as soon as possible!

My personal favourite: “Your call is important to us. Please hold for the next available consultant“, followed by Beethoven’s 9th Symphony alternating with advertising / information messages … over and over and over again.

And let’s not forget this important message: “For Quality and Training purposes your call may be recorded“. For heavens’ sake … If quality was important to them they would answer my darned call and not put me in a queue for ages! [1]

I’ve heard these and similar voice messages a hundred times, or more, and every time I asked myself: Really? Is the client really important to you? Are you really not available, or just in another meeting? Or is it just a question of you being unable to prioritise the urgent and important stuff?

Recently, for one of my projects, I tried to contact about 30 people. I say ‘tried’ because 80% of them couldn’t be reached on their mobile number and either don’t listen to their voicemail or don’t return calls. Why are we sitting with this endemic corporate sickness?

At one stage, I used to say to myself (as I’m sure many still do): “I am busy, if YOUR call is important to YOU, then you can call ME back!” That changed radically when I became self-employed. Every missed call is now, for me, a missed opportunity. Even when I am in a meeting, I will take a call from my wife, Heidi.

One of the reasons for carrying a mobile phone is instant connectivity. Even if circumstances dictate that you can’t immediately take a call (driving is a good example), you should still acknowledge the call by phoning the person back later.

ACTION

  1. Listen to your own message. What is it telling others about you, or your company? Turn the tables and try to see it from the caller’s perspective.
  2. Ask yourself: If I were self-employed, how would I deal with my phone calls? “Call back later” may be interpreted to mean that you are not interested, potentially losing you a business opportunity.
  3. Don’t use an auto responder unless you absolutely have to. Acknowledge the call. This doesn’t mean you have to take the call and enter into a long conversation. It means taking the initiative by offering to phone back or asking the caller to phone you at a certain time.
  4. Don’t use a term like ‘as soon as possible’. Make it a habit to follow up on missed calls and call-backs daily.
  5. Look at the 80/20 rule. 80% of people who call you on a regular basis probably need an urgent decision or want to share information with you. Ask yourself why? Has it got something to do with the way you manage and empower people? It’s your call!

[1]    Rod Jones, of Contact Centre Consulting CC

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SCnSP – Why Are People Making ‘Stupid Mistakes’?

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Feb 2016

WHY ARE PEOPLE MAKING
‘STUPID MISTAKES’?

(Why we do what we do)

graphic depicting the word mistake crossed out

I suppose it is tempting,
if the only tool you have is a hammer,
to treat everything as if it were a nail.

— Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being

     

One of the most frequent comments I get when talking to people about safety is: “Why are people making stupid mistakes?”. In many people’s minds this then extends to the (illogical) conclusion that people who make mistakes are stupid.

Apart from being a generalisation and over-simplification of a complex behavioural issue, one which often leads to stereotyping, it also shines a light on the power of the made up mind.

When we assume that the mistake was stupid, we are ourselves making the first mistake. Until we have established why people did what they did, is it really a mistake or the result of a genuine effort to do the right thing which did not work out as intended?

There are many reasons why things are done differently at the ‘sharp end’ and these are often overlooked when we try and find the cause of a ‘deviation’:

  • We are thinking humans with reason, memories and moods
  • We make adjustments to stay on course, but things can still go wrong
  • A mis- (wrong) take is a behaviour and not a personality trait
  • There is no one size fits all – some are more prone to making mistakes than others
  • We all take risks, the level varying over time and with mood
  • We don’t always read people and situations correctly
  • We are good at finding mistakes, especially in hindsight, and at blaming others
  • Our schooling is based on marking papers by finding mistakes
  • There are many kinds of intelligence and people who are seen to make stupid mistakes in one domain are often highly intelligent in another respect – IQ, EQ, NS … whatever “quotients” or “smarts” you want to use  [1].

That being said, it cannot be denied that there are some actions which are avoidable:

  • Lack of awareness and making assumptions
  • Lack of care for others and property
  • Bad analysis and being willfully ignorant
  • Taking ‘lazy’ shortcuts without thinking about what we are doing
  • Allowing ourselves to be distracted
  • Allowing worry and fear to cloud our judgement
  • Not making time to stop and think about the consequences of our actions
  • Too much haste and too much noise to see clearly

ACTION

  1. Be careful before blaming ‘the PEOPLE factor’ – don’t assume the person / people made a mistake. Without people making adjustments and controlling processes, virtually nothing in this world would function on its own
  2. Don’t look for and label things which do not conform to your standards as a ‘mistake’ or ‘near miss’.
  3. Shift your mindset from ‘preventing things from going wrong’ (re-active) to ‘ensuring things go right’ (pro-active). This is in line with ‘catch people doing the right thing’ and giving recognition  [2].
  4. Encourage and reward employees to share what they have to do or adjust to ensure ‘things go right’ (production, quality, costs, etc.), especially when the rules don’t work and no one is looking or checking up.

[1]    Types of intelligence (smarts) – Nature / Musical / Number / Reasoning / Existential / People / Self / Body / Word / Picture

[2]    Safety I & Safety II by Erik Hollnagel

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GM – VW Deception

♦♦♦   CURRENT AFFAIRS   ♦♦♦
Oct 2015

VW Deception

(Lessons About Measurement)

The VW deception[1]  is unforgivable. Yes, we should denounce this kind of behaviour and yes, heads should roll.  It leaves one discomforted, distrustful, wondering if it is happening, as yet undiscovered, in pharmaceuticals, medical care or health & hygiene, especially in food processing. (Mind you, a while back it did, with the horse meat scandal[2].)

I see this behaviour as a direct consequence of a culture where measurement becomes the end in itself and not the means to an end. It’s what happens when we ‘cook the books’ to reflect the result we are looking for, instead of assessing the results so as to ensure quality, safety, health, risk control or environmental protection. True measurement goes way beyond compliance to a minimum standard. Proper measurement is a tool for continuous improvement.

What VW did is similar to what is being done by many companies. Whenever a company ‘sets up’ or ‘spring cleans’ or ‘prepares’ just before an audit or alters statistics in order to meet audit criteria to keep the record intact … it is committing fraud by deception. It is defrauding its personnel, or the public or both.

We tend to feel quite justified in making our own amendments to figures. So did the guys directly involved at VW. But now VW is in trouble, because the company was caught out and it has customers who can vote with their wallet. As a top brand there is only one way – down.

Misrepresenting or selectively using data is a world-wide occurrence. Why did we find it necessary to put so much time and effort into the King Commission on corporate governance[3]?  Surely not because there is no problem in our backyards?

ACTION

This is between you and your conscience. Look into the mirror and ask yourself how often and by how much you adjust the figures on emissions, effluents, performance, waste, recycling, accidents, observations, near miss reporting, performance, costs … ? If you are in a leadership position, you might not be directly involved, but you are accountable for the culture which breeds this kind of behaviour in your organisation!

[1]   “Volkswagen: The scandal explained“, by Russell Hotten, BBC News, 7 October 2015

[2]   “2013 meat adulteration scandal“, from Wikipedia

[3]   “King Report on Corporate Governance“, from Wikipedia

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