May 16, 2013
“Team sports and athletics naturally teach us about goal-setting. The best leaders broke the game down into sections and gave us a road map of where we want to be,” said Trevor Linden at the BC Safety Charter Round Table on May 2 in Vancouver. “Details and structure are what makes good leaders.”
The former Canucks captain – who now runs his own business, Club 16 – Trevor Linden Fitness – talked about good leadership as the key to team-building.
“What defines a good team? For me, it’s always about the culture,” Trevor said. “As independent business leaders, we have the ability to create that and eventually it becomes our legacy.”
About 150 delegates, from more than 60 businesses and organizations from across BC and around the world, attended this event hosted by FIOSA-MIOSA, the industry safety association for manufacturing and food/beverage processing.
The Charter’s purpose is to bring together CEOs who acknowledge that good health and safety management is an essential part of business. Those who sign are doing their part to “spread the message to as many leaders in the corporate world,” reads this description on the Charter web site.
The Charter, started in 2011 with 22 signatures, now includes 75 signatures after the latest Round Table. Charter signatories have a goal to get 150 of B.C.’s senior executives sign the Charter by 2015 – and at this rate, I’m sure they’ll have way more than that.
What’s in a signature?
I asked CEO Justin Williams to tell me more about what it’s meant to his company since he signed the Charter. His company, Williams and White, makes tools and machinery for maintaining saws and knives.
“People come in and I say, ‘Hey have you seen we’ve signed this?’” Justin said. “We treat it as one of our qualifications – one of our certifications. We signed the Safety Charter. We’re committed to safety. We believe in it and now we’re living it.”
He said he and his brother Matt, operations manager, introduced the Charter to staff and talk about it with vendors, clients, and anyone who visits their office.
“It’s made a big difference – and that’s because it’s front and centre. It’s become a talking point really,” Justin said. “That’s the big impact of signing this document. It takes 2 minutes – that’s two minutes to start this conversation.”
Thanks to FIOSA-MIOSA for having me as a guest and for all the work on this important project.
April 02, 2013
A new Hazard Alert from NIOSH, Dangers of Bathtub Refinishing was published in Feb 2013. The American Society of Safety engineers also wrote this blog post in March Methylene Chloride Hazards for Bathtub Refinishers.
Since 2000, 14 workers in the US have died while doing this job. When I saw the new alert, posted on Twitter, it reminded me of a tragic story I heard last summer.
A 52-year-old worker died in a small, poorly ventilated bathroom of an apartment while using methylene chloride as a stripping agent. He was found “slumped over the tub on his knees with his face in the tub,” according to NIOSH.
All the deaths “involved the use of paint-stripping products containing methylene chloride, a highly volatile, colorless and toxic chemical that is widely used as a degreaser and paint stripper,” reads the article in Medical News Today. An in-depth report on the incidents is available from NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control.
Exposure to extremely high levels of methylene chloride can be fatal. You could survive if you got away from this source that can result in what is described as “effects on the central nervous system (CNS) including decreased visual, auditory, and psychomotor functions” by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
While this type of tragedy is relatively rare, there are many chemicals to be wary of. Please review these resources, and be cautious with what you work with.
Also see Pages 8 to 11 of the Paint safety primer from ACTSafe.
December 18, 2012
I stopped by the BC Safety Charter Roundtable in Vancouver on Nov 29 and heard an interesting group exercise. Dr. Graham Lowe, speaking on leadership and trust, asked his audience of CEOs and senior managers “to write down two simple actions you will take this week to build trust” with their workers. Then he asked for volunteers to read them aloud.
“Go out there on the shop floor and solicit feedback,” said one.
“Get out from behind my desk more and talk with everybody – take more time to walk around,” said another.
“Interact on a daily basis and also to bring everyone together and have more feedback.”
Lowe is a professor at the University of Alberta and has written several publications about people at work. He was one of the speakers at this annual event led by FIOSA-MIOSA, the BC Safety Charter signatories, and many sponsors.
Building trust is crucial for senior managers trying to build safety culture in their workplaces. Without this management support, nothing will change. I’ve written about this topic quite a bit in the past – most recently in this blog post Senior management support for safety.
Lowe said many of our ideas for building trust are “things we know we should be doing – like going to the fitness centre” so it’s just a matter of prioritizing it.
This year’s roundtable event follows up the 2011 initial signing of the BC Safety Charter, which I wrote about in this November 2011 post BC safety charter signals commitment
“The purpose of the Charter is to bring together CEOs who understand the principle that the effective management of health and safety is essential to long-term profitability and sustainability of their companies and want to spread the message,” reads the event agenda.
Thanks to FIOSA-MIOSA for inviting me and giving me a chance to see the commitment of these leaders. Congrats to all.
November 08, 2012
A coroner once told me that his job is to “find out what happened without laying blame.”
His aim is to “speak for the deceased” by explaining, as objectively as possible, what caused the death. Results are shared publicly when there’s a chance to prevent similar incidents to other people in the future.
I thought about this investigative approach recently when I saw a new WorkSafe Bulletin Incident investigations in health care: Focusing on change instead of blame.
Blame is like a hot potato sometimes – at work, in society, at home, on the roads. But what’s most important is taking note of “what went wrong” and doing all you can to prevent it from happening again. This applies to individuals and their various communities.
Looking back and shaking the finger of reproach is a waste of energy that could be used on positive solutions for the future. I’m not talking about cases of extreme negligence or intentional wrong-doing, but about other types of misjudgments, poor supervision, outmoded processes, and other factors that lead to bad outcomes.
“When an incident occurs in the workplace, a common reaction is to look for somewhere to place blame,” reads the bulletin.
“It’s more important and productive to look for reasons why the incident happened and what can be done to prevent it from recurring… focus on changes that will make the workplace safer, rather than blaming those involved in the incident.”
It calls for learning from your mistakes, as I see it, and the WorkSafe bulletin explains it well.
“Once you’ve identified what contributed to the incident, take corrective action. Consider targeting these actions at various levels of the organizations, such as the care team, department management, and senior management,” it reads, referring to the health care setting.
“If permanent corrective actions will take time to implement, use temporary measures to protect workers until you can make permanent changes.”
This approach applies beyond health care to other industries – and even to life in general, if you think about it. You do something. The outcome of your actions were not what you intended. You note “What went wrong” and figure out “how to do it right” next time. Simple, right?
October 09, 2012
I met Terry Bogyo at the Make It Safe Conference recently after his keynote address “Rewire Your Safety Culture: Is there an app for that?”
Terry (whose last name is pronounced Bō-show) is WorkSafeBC’s Director of Corporate Planning and Development – and, as I expected, his answer was no – there is no app that can re-wire your safety culture.
Certainly there are many great apps that support safe practices, but none of them has what it takes to create that level of change.
“That re-wiring has to be in you, regarding the way you think about safety,” he told delegates from the manufacturing and food processing industries. “Just because you have an app, it doesn’t mean you’re going to change things. To change things, you have to use them appropriately.”
Terry talked about the importance of having senior management support for changing safety culture – a topic I covered recently in my post Senior management support for safety, in which I shared advice from Donna Wilson, WorkSafeBC’s VP of Industry Services and Sustainability.
“It can’t just be ‘Thou shalt be safe,’” Terry told delegates. “Having conversations about safety is not the same as buying new equipment.”
Lean Six Sigma
Terry described this managerial approach to improving processes – in this case, workplace safety. He talked about using Lean Six Sigma – a combination of Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing and the Six Sigma approach created by Motorola.
A company using the Lean Six Sigma approach ensures its people, processes, and focus are centred around a shared goal to improve safety processes and eliminate wasteful actions.
“The difference between the two trends is that Six Sigma tools focus on improving the quality of a product or service, whereas Lean focuses on eliminating waste and improving cycle time in a production process,” wrote Michael George in his 2002 book: Lean Six Sigma. “Integrating Lean Production methods with the quality tools used in Six Sigma produces faster and greater performance improvements, resulting in increased growth and profitability.”
I was especially curious to meet Terry – after reading his blog Workers Compensation Perspectives – and writing about his thoughts on what the manufacturing industry needs in my post Changing safety culture in manufacturing.
“Every worksite has a safety culture,” Terry said. “It may be good or bad but it is real and it is an important determinant in work-related injury and disease. I’ve seen examples in Canada, US, and Australia where individual firms have set out to change their safety culture and succeeded.”
September 13, 2012
“All too often, supervisory tasks are imposed on employees without considering the nature of those new responsibilities. This results in giving a new job to someone who does not have the skills or knowledge to do it,” says Earl Galavan, OHS Advisor for SafetyDriven – the Trucking Safety Council of BC.
In this blog post, Earl asks some important questions about how employers can be sure their new supervisors understand due diligence.
“Has your new supervisor ever instructed anyone? Do they know how to evaluate competence and set standards that promote the company safety policy?
“When there is instructing to be done, has anyone taken the time to show the new supervisor how to record who was trained and in what?” Earl asks. “They need to know why all this documentation is important and how it serves to establish your due diligence.”
The standard of due diligence is defined as “taking all reasonable care to protect the well-being of employees or co-workers,” according to this Due Diligence checklist from WorkSafeBC.
According to the Due Diligence checklist, supervisors must:
- Receive training to perform their safety and health responsibilities
- Give crew talks/conduct safety meetings
- Participate in inspections
- Conduct incident/accident investigations
- Take action to correct reported hazards
- Conduct orientation
- Conduct on-the-job training
- Evaluate training to ensure that it is effective
- Monitor work conditions and practices in areas where they have responsibility
- Correct employees not following rules and procedures
- Keep records of progressive discipline
- Have OH&S considered as an element in their performance evaluation
That’s a tall order. Without the skills listed above, a supervisor will not be ready to take on the important job of managing others’ safety. Below are some resources that will help prepare new supervisors – and, if you have any to share, please let me know.
Supervising for safety – a free, online course for supervisors from WorkSafeBC
How to deliver a crew talk from WorkSafeBC
August 21, 2012
“When you engage the leaders of an organization – whether it’s the CEO, president, or vice president of the business side – they understand that it actually is better for business to work safely,” says Donna Wilson, WorkSafeBC’s VP of Industry Services and Sustainability.
Donna is opening the second day of the Make It Safe conference on September 21 and 22 in Vancouver. I gave her a call to talk about the conference.
“It’s really important for safety experts or safety managers in the middle of an organization to think about how to engage the leadership of their organization,” said Donna, by phone. “Without that support, it’s much more difficult to move ahead as quickly as you want.”
Having a good safety reputation
Having good safety record can attract new workers, Donna said.
“When you’re in a situation where young people are looking for work, they are going to be looking for the safest places to work, I think. If you’re seen to be an organization that cares about your employees from a health and safety perspective – in addition to having good benefits and that sort of thing – they’ll be interested in taking a look at you,” Donna said. “But if they see statistics in the newspaper and check out ‘How safe is this company?’ and they hear the company has a record of having accidents, they may be less inclined to work for that organization than for someone who shows that they care.”
I asked Donna what delegates get out of the Make It Safe Conference.
“It’s an interesting way to learn when you’ve got safety specialists and employers – your peers in an industry or a related industry sharing their stories,” she said. “At the last conference, I saw a lot of really engaged people. They were really enjoying that conversation, picking up lots of safety tips and I think that’s one of the main reasons to go.”
I’m planning to go to Make It Safe. Are you?
August 02, 2012
Terry Bogyo is the Director of Corporate Planning and Development for WorkSafeBC, and he’s the keynote speaker at the Make It Safe Conference Sept 21 and 22 in Vancouver. We had a conversation, via email, about safety in manufacturing, in which Terry talked about the link between improved safety culture and improved safety outcomes.
SM: What needs to change in the manufacturing safety culture?
TB: Every worksite has a safety culture. It may be good or bad but it is real and it is an important determinant in work-related injury and disease. I’ve seen examples in Canada, US, and Australia where individual firms have set out to change their safety culture and succeeded. The results are safer, healthier workplaces often with lower costs and higher productivity. Knowing that, learning from those who have taken that path, and making it real in your own firms is what needs to change.
SM: What are some of the industry efforts now in place?
TB: Changing the safety culture has to come from the industry, the firms, and their employees who make up the food and other manufacturing sectors. The creation of FIOSA-MIOSA – something supported by the industry – is an important step in that direction. Putting more information about risks and ways of controlling them in the hands of those in the workplace is another important step, one that FIOSA-MIOSA and WorkSafeBC is working hard to achieve. Efforts to improve the timeliness and accessibility of that information are continuing and essential to the change in safety culture.
SM: How will the Make it Safe Conference help to change the safety culture in manufacturing? What will delegates get out of it?
TB: Knowledge is essential to change. What this conference will do is give delegates new ways of understanding safety, safety culture, and the path we need to take to achieve safe and healthy workplaces in the manufacturing sector. This conference has the potential to change you, the way you think, and most importantly, the way you act to “make it safe”.
SM: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the conference?
TB: Deciding to attend is the first step. What you ultimately get out this conference depends on you, your participation, your desire to learn from others. This conference can be your first step to making a difference in your workplace, making it safe for everyone. And what could be more important than that?
Terry Bogyo blogs at Workers Compensation Perspectives.
July 17, 2012
I asked a former construction supervisor what he did when workers showed up drunk, hungover, or on drugs.
“As a lead hand, I used to send workers home in the morning if I thought they were still impaired, or smelled too fresh. I would just tell them: ‘I think maybe it was a mistake to come in today, you should have phoned in sick, and I am sending you home,’” he said.
“I wouldn’t report alcohol or drug problems because that would lead to a drug test, and then an indefinite suspension until a doctor cleared them to return to work. It was discreet, efficient. No blaming. Of course, this happened to some more than others, and they were almost always the first laid off when the crew was downsized at the end of the job.”
But discreetly sending someone home really isn’t enough, even though the supervisor felt he was acting with compassion and perhaps adhering to the “don’t rat people out” code. As he said, it happened to some more than others – and there’s a good chance the repeat offenders will create a serious safety hazard before anyone notices their state of mind.
Online course for supervisors
A supervisor in his postion would benefit from this online course for employers Supervising the Drug-free Workplace – from the BC Council on Substance Abuse.
This “practical guide” offers employers an opportunity “to increase their awareness and understanding of substance abuse; help them identify performance problems caused by substance abuse; learn how to discuss problems with employees; and most important, teach supervisors/leaders how to gain an employee’s commitment to correct the problem,” reads the course info sheet.
It takes four hours in total – delivered in two sessions, two hours each, scheduled at specific times. In the meantime, check out A Deadly Silence: Substance Abuse and Accidents – a video that tells the story of four workers whose personal and work lives were affected.
The video – sponsored in 2007 by MacMillan Bloedel, IWA Canada, and WorkSafeBC – discusses the issue of “ratting people out” and the fact that many adhere to a code of silence when their coworkers come to work in an altered state. Some don’t want to risk the job of someone who’s supporting a family – but the video’s main message is that people who abuse substances at work need help – and everyone around them needs to be protected from their unsafe work practices.
July 05, 2012
It is estimated that one million BC youth between the ages of 17 and 25 have Facebook accounts. On average, each Facebook user has 190 Facebook friends.
“As such, targeting prevention messages through Facebook and engaging the viral aspects of social media presents an opportunity to extend injury prevention awareness to a large audience of youth,” says Trudi Rondeau, WorkSafeBC’s Young and New Worker manager.
Trudi and her team are inviting BC residents 13 and older to visit the new Dangerously Exposed Facebook page, where they can play a new game and enter to win an iPad.
“The game focuses on exposure hazards that present the greatest risk to youth – noise, chemicals and airborne particles like asbestos and silica dust,” Trudi says. “The message is serious, but game play is fun. And we’re really hoping the viral element of Facebook helps build a big community of players.”
Players “Like” the game on Facebook and see how their score compares among their Facebook friends who play. In it, participants look at pairs of photos to identify which worker is more dangerously exposed to a hazard. At the end, a results page shows how they’ve scored and describes how to avoid the exposures shown.
Players can also submit a story explaining how they work to make their own workplace safer, then have a Facebook friend verify the story. WorkSafeBC will judge the stories and award a new iPad to both the player and the verifier.
Some of the stories will be shared on the Dangerously Exposed Facebook page – such as this one from Sydney DiBenedetto, winner of WorkSafeBC’s Student Safety Video Contest, who reminded her friend to use the safety guard on a table saw in shop class.