A Different Approach to Safety
Most safety folks know that safety success is all about sales. They also know that selling safety to CEOs, Managers, Supervisors and even the workforce is tough, because most are not buying. The perception is that safety adds time, it’s inconvenient and adds to the bottom line.
Safety and Free-Agency don’t normally come in the same sentence, but with management trying to address safety, cost, quality and schedule simultaneously, they are seeking the best performers/free agents to make these parts of their business successful. We have taken a different approach by managing safety equally along with quality, cost and schedule.
For the last few years, we have been emphasizing these four measures and incorporating them into professionalism for the win-win solution.
In prior interviews with skilled trades folks, they were asked, “Do you consider yourself a professional welder or a professional electrician or whatever?” Most often the question gets a puzzled look and the response is “I’m just an electrician” or “I’m just a forklift operator.” The next question is, “How does management get their workforce to think of themselves as professionals regardless of the role they fill and not “just an…?” When workers think of themselves as professionals, they tend to behave like professionals.
From this “Different Approach,” we have discovered that the best free agents are also the most professional at what they do. The best free agents do their work “Right, the First Time, Without Incidents.” Doing work right results in the highest quality. Getting it right the first time gives us the best schedule. Getting it right, the first time, without incident gives us the best cost. We always hear that if we do the job safely, it will take more time and cost more. If you think about “Done Right, the First Time, Without Incidents,” you can’t do it any better, faster or safer for less cost.
When asking workers, “who has more control over the quality of your work, you or the quality manager?” or “who has more control over how long it takes you to complete a task, you or the planner?”or “who has more control over your safety, you or the safety manager?” When discussing the Without Incidents portion, we define incidents as anything that causes waste or additional costs. These things could be an injury, a quality problem or not bringing the appropriate tools to the job site and having to return to the shop causing additional time and wasted trips. The answers to these questions become obvious to the workforce, we all are. The other questions are, “what happens to cost when there is a quality issue with the project?” “What happens to schedule when there is a safety or quality issues?” “What happens to cost when the schedule stretches out because of poor planning, etc.?” Safety, quality and planning seem to be the greatest risk factors to a project coming in on time and at or under cost.
By asking these questions, we come to the conclusion that managers monitor quality, cost, safety and schedule, but the workers truly are the ones in control. As a Safety Manager, I would love to think that the great safety results we are getting is all because of me. However, I build the processes and deliver the training, but the results belong to the workers.
All this being said, we are experiencing exceptional feedback from our clients about how professional our work force is. We hear “Your quality if far superior to your competitors” and “Your safety is uncompromising and highly visible when compared to other contractors,” “This is why we keep bringing you back,” Providing feedback to our workforce on the results they have earned has been very good for morale. Workers watching out for at-risk behaviors or unsafe conditions has become more of a habit than in the past, as no one wants to see anyone to get injured.
Project Managers always select the most professional workers and the best free agents, because these professionals demonstrate extremely high levels of competence, respect, credibility, trustworthiness, cooperation and ethics. In doing so, they produce high quality work, done safely, on schedule and at the best cost.
On the safety side, the best results our company has seen in the past was 1,040,305 hours and 697 days without lost time. Our current stretch is 344,974 hours and 510 days without a recordable incident.
Considering all things as being equal, Professionalism is the key to a company’s success and results in many wins. The client or customer wins, as they get their work done when they want it, with the quality they require, at the cost they expected to pay. The worker becomes the sought after professional free-agent and they get continuous work, better pay and more recognition. The company gets repeat business from satisfied clients, safer-high quality production, and better profit margins with less waste, all of which drives business success.
Ask yourself, who are the best free-agents in your company? Are you getting your products delivered right, the first time, without incidents? Do your workers consider themselves professionals and work accordingly? Does your management process integrate equally the big four (safety, quality, schedule and cost) and incorporate them into professionalism for the win-win solution?
Professionalism is the key to success!