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Since 2005, I have strived to honor and respect others during safety meetings and while enforcing safety policies. I have worked with a wide range of companies in the construction, agriculture, and general industries. I am a Board Certified Safety Professional (CSP), I was the Safety Director for King of Texas Roofing Company in Texas, and I am currently the founder of DI Safety Consulting. I received an Occupational Safety and Health Technology Associate Degree with high distinction from Gateway Community College in Phoenix, AZ. I completed the Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO) program from OSHA’s Education Center at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am an authorized instructor for the National Safety Council, Health and Safety Institute, National Roofing Contractors Association, and OSHA.
However, when I started down this career path, my only qualification was being bilingual and trustworthy. Regardless of where you are on your career path, I want to encourage you to keep learning and keep growing. You are part of an industry that pays you to invest in yourself. Not only will this career path change your life, more importantly, you will be able to change the lives of many others. My personal vision is to empower others with practical ways that will help them understand, improve, and enjoy their lives. My mission is to lead by example, have a positive servant attitude, and remain accountable. I make every effort to leave a legacy of never giving up on any person or company. Safety is not about how much you know, it’s about how you get along with people. The way you manage your safety and health program is a reflection of the way you manage life. Congratulations on accepting this challenge!
Unfortunately, I have found that there are unique challenges that safety professionals face. Today, we will identify four key elements required in a safety program. We will also discuss techniques on how to apply these elements. These methods will transform safety from a program into a culture. My goal is to help you understand these challenges and give you some solutions or ideas that will help you deal with these issues. Are you going to take the easy way out and ignore your company’s culture or will you step up to the challenge?
Better to be safe than sorry is a maxim that is often applied in the safety profession. We spend our careers designing and implementing preventative measures, so as to ensure that risk is eliminated or mitigated within the work place. Every year around the globe, there are thousands of new safety initiatives, commenced with millions of employees. Whilst these initiatives undoubtedly have well intentioned beginnings, I wonder how many safety professionals consider the possibility, that the end point could be negative for safety, for health and for the workplace culture. In my work as a corporate Psychologist for IFAP (the Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention) in Australia, I study aspects of organizational safety culture.
Management support, we all say we want it, need it, and can’t do our jobs without it. Saying that management support is essential for safety “success” has in fact become a safety profession mantra. A majority, 51.2% according to a 2002 ASSE survey, (Kendrick/Pater 2) of safety professionals, however, don’t believe they receive that support. But what do we mean by management support and, more importantly, what should we really expect from our management and how do we go about getting it? Is asking for support even the right question? As a staff/support function shouldn’t safety professionals really be asking what they can do to support management?
While there is nearly universal agreement among safety professionals regarding the importance of management support, there is scant agreement on just what that support should look like. Naturally, every employee wants and deserves the support of his or her management. Safety professionals are no different. We all want respect, decent remuneration and adequate resources to accomplish those tasks for which we are held accountable. What more do we want?
Looking back on a 40-year career that started in the safety engineering department of a large insurance carrier and is now winding down as a very part time safety consultant, I’ve naturally come to some conclusions regarding safety management. Coloring those conclusions is the more than 30 years I spent as a manager. My management roles ranged from directing plant safety and emergency response staff to corporate responsibilities for nuclear safety oversight, independent ES&H assessment, training, and quality assurance. My first budget in excess of $1,000,000 was in 1981 and I know firsthand the challenges of safety responsibility for up to 200 employees. Further influencing my safety perspective are the 15 years I spent leading corporate oversight and assessment programs. This role included evaluation of corporate program effectiveness for everything from industrial and nuclear safety to maintenance.
The word "safety" is general in nature. This is used in different forms for different aspects, e.g., home safety, road safety, process safety, personal safety, and many more. However, coming to industry side and in particular to the oil & gas sector, two forms of safety are prominent and have significant impact in the business cycle, which are process safety and personal safety.
Occupational (personal or personnel) safety is what is thought of when most people hear the word "safety." They think of trips, falls, struck against and the use of PPE. Traditionally, in the industry, focus of "safety" has been assumed to be totally described by the personal safety and related injury rates. If you ask any organization about their safety performance, the answer almost always was a statement of their incident rates which consists of injury frequency rates (IFR), lost time rates (LTR), total recordable incident rate, etc.
It is particularly important to distinguish between process safety and occupational safety. The Baker Panel report, written following the explosion at BP's Texas City refinery in 2005, stated,
With respect to personal safety, that focus evidently was effective. BP's executive management, however, mistakenly believed that injury rates, such as days away from work, case frequency and recordable injury frequency, were indicators of acceptable process safety performance. While executive management understood that the outputs BP tracked to monitor safety were the same as those that the industry generally monitored, it was not until after the Texas City incident that management understood that those metrics do not correlate with the state of process safety.