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Building a World-Class Safety Culture

Sandy Smith

Have you created opportunities for your workers to choose risk?

Ask yourself: “Can an organization leave so much variation within the work system that it places workers at risk of making poor decisions while performing their work?” It seems logical that in many situations when a worker performs an unsafe act, the decision that led to error was influenced by uncontrolled variables within the work system itself.

Every organization is unique and dynamic in nature, and each has its own personality. The reality is that success in safety is, for the most part, determined by the customer – the workers themselves. For most of us as safety professionals, our list of customers is long and varied with differing definitions of what success looks like.

Parallel to this thought is the fact that there is no one “right” way to build a safer culture. Rather, it is a myriad of elements that must be employed to build robustness within the safety process. There’s no magic bullet for an easy and quick fix when it comes to building a safety culture. Simply put, organizations that demonstrate world-class performance employ a strategy with elements that control loss-producing variation throughout the work system.

Human Error or System Error?

The term "human error" often is used to explain the cause of a workplace accident. It suggests that a worker, either through carelessness or neglect, made a poor decision that resulted in an injury or fatality. When we hear "human error," we might take some comfort in the assumption that there was a defined way the task ought to have been performed but that the worker simply didn't do their job properly. If they had just followed the rules and procedures, there would have been no problem. 

Yet a worker’s ability to make the right decision is only as good as the system in which they work. Poor equipment design, lack of training, and lack of leadership initiative in driving safety values can all create variability within the system that hinders workers' abilities to make critical decisions and avoid safety incidents. 

In the new Intelex Insight Report, “Building a World-Class Safety Culture: Eliminate Opportunities for Workers to Choose Risk,” Health and Safety expert Scott Gaddis, Vice President and Global Practice Leader—Safety and Health at Intelex Technologies ULC, shows you how decisions to perform unsafe acts directly link to the work systems in which the workers reside, and how process upset is a major variable in successfully controlling incidents. You'll learn about: 

  • The distinction between latent, armed, and active errors. 
  • How operational errors are symptoms of underlying system failures. 
  • The important features of Hierarchy of Controls and Inherent Safe Design. 
  • How to build a safety system that integrates the work environment, people, behavior, and leadership. 

Download the white paper now.

August 20, 2019 @ 09:00 AM EDT Manufacturing, Construction Health & Safety, Operations, Quality, Risk Management

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