Monday, April 27, 2009

Safety Culture; Take It Home

Safety Culture

One of the reasons that from time to time, I will post something related to safety at home, and not necessarily workplace safety is that because (I believe) that when employees have developed a safety culture, they think about safety outside of work. As I have stated before, when I do safety training I poll my students to see how many practice safety at home (usually 50%). After 6 months of training that number goes up to 80%-90%.

I have discovered another important aspect of safety training in the last 6 months; that is support for a safety culture at home. If the employer has a commitment to a culture of safety that has to extend beyond the boundaries of work. I have always provided safety information that extends beyond work and encourage them to "take it home."

I have been reviewing the accident rates of safety training I have done, programs of some colleagues, and programs I have set up and were turned over to another trainer. I noticed that my (sole) training has had lower accident rates.

The revelation came to me when one of my former client had contacted me because they were unsatisfied with the trainer of the new staffing company that had taken over their workforce. I was presented with a copy of their annual syllabus. It was very welled prepared and extremely detailed (better than mine).

It was too perfect though. It was almost as if it was a computer based program that spits out pages of information. I also noticed that it lacked safety for at home. I began to review other safety programs that I had started and with some colleagues who were willing to share data. I also specifically asked how many of these had specific elements that encouraged safety at home.

Some claimed they did, but did not have the lower accident rates. Their "take it home" aspects were basically a reminder of "don't drink & drive" during the holidays, fireworks safety during the summer. They lack to strategies to promote, develop, and integrate safety outside of work.

A note about the accident rates:

The difference between the accident rates of the safety training that integrated the "take it home" concept and the ones that did not were small; but there was a distinctive pattern between the 2. The main reason that the difference was so small was twofold, the groups were generally less than 50 employees. Most around the 10-20 employee size.

The second is that the difference between accident rates between companies that have a (well run, correctly implemented, and not half-assed) safety program and those who do not is is very big. Compared to this number the "take it home" program vs. not difference is almost insignificant.

There is definitely a pattern though. If you take into account near misses, equipment damage, productivity, and quality, the pattern becomes more pronounced and the difference greater. Finally if there was a method to mathematically quantify a measure of the abstract concept of safety culture, the "take it home"programs would have a higher rating because the culture would be 100% of the time instead of just 9 to 5.

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