Safety And Productivity Go Hand In Hand

Lasting productivity improvement requires transitioning from a “fix it” mind-set, to a “solve and prevent it” mind-set. No where is this more important than when addressing safety in the workplace. Safety and performance improvement go hand-in-hand. An effective performance improvement program requires that you dig into the causes of accidents, determine the conditions that are at the root of those causes, and determine the best practices to prevent those conditions from reoccurring. The solution is the implementation of a productivity & safety program

An effective improving productivity & safety program requires creation of a core implementation team The core implementation team plays an important role in that it will initiate the Productivity & Safety (IP&S)process in a target area, begin implementation, and teach others in the area about the system.

The core implementation team manages the Productivity & Safety implementation process. However, the team’s most important responsibility is to encourage participation in the use of the IP&S system so that it can become part of everyone’s daily work.

After you have established your core implementation team you can begin developing your IP&S program. The way you prepare the project will either make it or break it. The most important step is to make sure you have the right people on board-the people who can give you the facts and make effective decisions.

Another critical part of the preparation is to make sure that the purpose and targets of the project are crystal clear. The team members have to understand and accept their mission to improve workplace safety conditions through IP&S.

One way to do this is to set up a flip chart with two columns. First, identify your target area. In the left-hand column, list what your current conditions are, and in the right-hand column, list what you want those conditions to be after you have completed IP&S for Safety.

Another key element of preparation is to document occurrences of problems and to set improvement targets. Keep in mind that 29 minor accidents and 300 near misses occur for every major accident! Be sure to track these top three layers, measuring them by day, or even by shift. You can post weekly totals for everyone to see.. Use this information about current trends to set targets for improvement. Most of this information should be readily available because it’s required by law.

Scan the workplace to gather data and then analyze the data. After you have identified the problems and sorted them into categories, you need to get down to the root causes of each problem. You can do this by using a technique called the “5 Whys.” The 5 Whys technique requires participants to ask “why” at least five times, or work through five levels of detail. Once it becomes difficult to respond to “why” the root cause has probably been identified. While asking the 5 Whys do not switch to asking “who?” The focus should be on the problem and not on the person involved. Sometimes you will need to ask “why” more than five times in order to get to the real cause of your problem.

As you can see, simply identifying the problem category, and then asking why the problem exists, can dig out the root causes that underlie many safety problems.

Best practices are effective, reliable methods. They have already shown that they will improve safety in the workplace. Each time you identify the cause to a safety problem, you can choose from a number of best practices that other companies have found effective in dealing with that same cause.

A combination of recent OSHA guidelines and tested IP&S safety techniques will give you a strong body of best practices to choose from. First and foremost, make sure you are in compliance with current OSHA guidelines. You may find instances where you are not-correct them immediately.

Next, continue to work toward total control of conditions by using IP&S best practices. Remember, the workplace is a dynamic, ever-changing environment. Your problems are always changing.

Making the IP & S program work in your facility requires that you:

  • Develop new awareness and skills.
  • Get support from management.
  • Provide ongoing, company-wide communication.
  • Make Improving Productivity & Safety standards part of daily work.
  • Promote total employee involvement.
  • Create visual controls.

People control and manage the work area, therefore it is essential that everyone be able to tell the difference between what is correct and what is incorrect. Consider using visual techniques such as lines, labels, signboards, color coding, and lights make it possible to grasp the standard at a glance and immediately correct any variance.