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SET Solutions

How to Develop a Contractor Safety Management Standard


Do you hire contractors or subcontractors? Check out this article written by SET Solutions's President and CEO, Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSA, CUSP. 

This piece was featured in the Incident Prevention February/March 2018 magazine and can help you and your company identify key performance indicators for safety excellence!

Read more from the article "How to Develop a Contractor Safety Management Standard" here:

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Safety Improvement Audits, Part II


By: Pam Tompkins, CSP, CUSP, CUSA

In the previous Safety Improvement Audits article, a traditional Safety Compliance Audit was discussed, including its lack of focus on creating effective safety management systems. This article will continue to discuss the Comprehensive Safety Improvement Audit and some of the tools that can be used to better understand how to improve the safety process.

Comprehensive Improvement Audit

A comprehensive improvement audit will identify gaps within the entire safety process so an effective plan can be developed for future improvement. A comprehensive improvement audit identifies gaps between an organization’s existing state of safety and its desired state, simply stated: existing versus desired. The desired state is typically determined by regulatory and industry best practices related to safety management systems, training systems and written rules and procedures.

Audits are typically completed through a series of employee interviews, field observations and document reviews designed to uncover weaknesses within work processes that allow unsafe conditions and contribute to worker errors. Many audits include a safety perception survey and a common cause analysis. These tools can be used to identify specific safety culture issues or areas of vulnerability. Also, these tools can be used prior to an audit to identify specific focus areas that may need more attention during the auditing process. Let’s take a look at both of these tools in more depth.

Safety Perception Survey

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of using safety perception surveys to gain a true picture of worker’s perception of the safety process. Surveys are used to gather feedback from workers so management can gain a clearer understanding of actual working conditions and worker perceptions and opinions. Understanding how workers perceive safety can help identify specific focus areas to address during the improvement audit. A more in-depth discussion on safety perception surveys was featured in the December 2015 issue of Incident Prevention magazine.

Common Cause Analysis

A common cause analysis is used to identify if a single deficiency has caused multiple incidents. Stated another way, do multiple incidents have a common cause? A common cause analysis includes reviewing existing data to determine areas of focused improvement that would yield the greatest sustainable positive results. This process involves reviewing all available data on recent events, close calls, and survey results.   When analyzed as a whole, this type of data can be very accurate in pointing to those areas of greatest vulnerability.

For example, a performance assessment was conducted at a fossil power plant because they were experiencing a high number of incidents. Review of the event reports identified there were a high number of incidents of dropped loads from forklifts. To identify why there were so many dropped loads, interviews were conducted with people involved in the events and training records were reviewed. Talking to people is a critical part of this assessment. Interviews and document review revealed that all forklift operators had been trained, but that training did not include handling unwieldy or oddly shaped loads. Without the analysis, actions for improvement may very well have been to re-train all the fork lift operators with the same training they had already completed. After the analysis, the need to train forklift operators on handling unwieldy loads became self-evident. A common cause analysis is a critical element of safety improvement efforts.

In a future article, a better understanding of safety improvement audits will be discussed by reviewing some typical audit components beyond the use of safety perception surveys and common cause analysis.

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Does Your Company Have an Effective Safety Management System?

Does Your Company Have an Effective Safety Management System?

Your safety program can have fully developed rules and procedures, a top-notch training program and the best safety equipment and tools money can buy – and there is still the possibility that it may not be successful. Although these things are extremely important and necessary, safety success will not occur until your safety program becomes a fully functional safety management system. This means that everyone in the organization is actively pursuing the same safety goals and working together in a synchronized manner to achieve those goals. A fully developed and well-executed safety management system is the backbone of safety excellence.

Safety Management System Components
What does a safety management system need in order to be effective? According to ANSI/AIHA Z10-2012, “Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems,” the following components are required for success:
• Management leadership and employee participation
• Planning
• Implementation and operations
• Evaluation and corrective action
• Management review

Let’s take a closer look at how each component is defined.

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Auditing for Safety Improvement

The mere thought of participating in an audit can be unnerving. Consider IRS audits for a moment – they can never mean good news, right? So why would an organization want to spend time, money and other resources to conduct an audit when it could be painful? The answer is that, regardless of the feelings they evoke, audits – when done right – can be a powerful organizational improvement tool rather than just a way to monitor compliance.

To better understand the importance of auditing for improvement, let’s review an example of a traditional compliance audit. In this example, the audit identified a distribution underground crew whose members did not use insulating cover-up while working inside a single-phase underground transformer. The apparent cause of the violation seemed straightforward – the crew members had simply failed to use appropriate insulating cover-up, so management reviewed the violation and mandated the crew to follow the rules in the future.

The action taken by management in this example seems acceptable, but was it truly enough? Will the apparent cause of this violation be completely remedied through talk and discipline? Although rule compliance is extremely important, audits that focus solely on this type of compliance may neglect to identify major gaps that contribute to an ineffective safety system. What happens if a utility doesn’t have the right people in place to support safety? For instance, it’s possible that workers have not been properly trained and frontline leaders don’t know how to apply the rules on a job site. In the previous example, the crew may not have understood how to use insulating cover-up on underground applications as they were only trained for application of cover-up on overhead lines.

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Understanding Safety Culture Through Perception Surveys

Understanding Safety Culture Through Perception Surveys

If you asked workers at your company who is responsible for their safety, how do you think they would answer that question? Would they say the safety director is responsible, or would they tell you they’re personally responsible for their own safety? You might be surprised by the answers you receive. While the reality is that we are all responsible for our own safety, some employees may perceive that the safety director bears that responsibility.

What if you asked them about your safety program in general? Do employees think it’s strong or weak? Again, you may receive answers that widely vary. For example, management may perceive the company’s safety program to be among the best in the industry because very few accidents have occurred. On the other hand, field employees may feel like no one cares about them or their safety.

In a nutshell, an employee’s perceptions often dictate his or her attitude toward on-the-job safety. And if perceptions about safety in your organization differ greatly from employee to employee, this can indicate that your company’s safety culture isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

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SET Solutions, LLC

A Full-Service Safety
Training & Management
Consulting Firm
P:  (803) 407-4707
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