What should you measure for safety?

Last week, we aired an episode about getting started with visual management.  To me, the only thing that makes this easier is if everyone knows the purpose behind the system.  Visual management systems are a countermeasure to some problem the organization has and wants to solve.

When we’re clear about the purpose:  Improve employee engagement; Improve work flow; improve communication channels; it’s easier to talk to team members about how they can contribute to the success of the system.  There’s something in it for them.

The things we measure have to be meaningful for the team.  That means that all team members understand how their actions move the needle on any particular measure.

Safety should be your number one metric.  But how do you make this meaningful for people?  Sure everyone wants a safe work environment, but what are the team members doing to improve safety?  What are they doing to reduce the risk of an accident or incident?  What are they doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Some companies will roll safety in with their 5 S stuff and call it 6S.  I guess it sounds like success, but what I’ve seen is that very few back it up in any tangible way. 

If you’re only counting recordables and near misses, you’re trying to move forward by looking in the rear-view mirror. 

So what should you be doing?

I recommend including everyone in your behavior-based safety program that involves doing a safety observation of a particular area.  Make a plan for who will do an observation in the team area and track whether people are staying on the plan by completing their observations on time.  If you include everyone, you’ll end up teaching everyone how to look for specific hazards that they might not notice working away every day.

Assign them to observe in an area where they don’t typically work everyday.  Have them record their observations as answers to specific questions on their safety observation card.  Then if their observation includes nothing to draw attention to or repair, then the green side of the card is displayed in the safety area of the board.  If there IS an observation, everyone needs to be empowered to stop the work there immediately and work together to remove the threat/hazard.  If it’s something that can’t be fixed right away, make sure you have a clear process for escalating.

I’ve seen this in far too many places, where they’ll do an observation and turn the card in to the EHS guy but no action ever comes from it.  If that’s the case, you’re wasting everyone’s time. 

People are too valuable to not manage the risk in the workplace.  If you need some help setting something up, I can help.  Send me a message or give me a call.

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.