Remember the “Dean of Safety”? Dean’s accident forever changed his life. It also forever shifted my personal motivation to lead Safety successfully. I occasionally wonder “what if?” … What if I had made just one Quality Safety Contact with Dean that day? More profoundly, “what if” I had instilled the Quality Safety Contact culture into my team where Dean would have received, as well as made, several safety contacts?
Even though Dean lived and returned to work after a prolonged healing process, there is no escaping the fact that the accident is one of my failures as a leader. However, I have been motivated ever since to find Best Safety Practices. One practice found that significantly reduces accident risk is a deliberate Quality Safety Contact system.
A Quality Safety Contact system is simple: Everyone makes at least one Safety Contact each day that is of high quality and on the frontlines. That’s it! As you embed this as a habit into the culture, the team is instinctively and always on high safety alert.
To better define the process, a Quality Safety Contact is:
- Made on the frontline, influencing safety behavior or conditions at a particular moment.
- A personal, one-to-one interaction that exemplifies “Brother’s Keeper”.
- Affecting a situation that keeps someone out of harm’s way or eliminates a risk.
Specific examples are:
- A lift truck driver and pedestrian signal eye contact with hand gestures indicating, “I see you seeing me.”
- A “snake on the floor” slip hazard is removed, with the root cause found and corrected.
- An electrical cord with exposed wiring is removed from service, at work or at home.
- Pallets or boxes stacked too high are lowered.
These ARE NOT considered High Quality Contacts:
- Reminding someone to “be safe”… nope. The contact must be more specific.
- Normal housekeeping.
- Highlighting a safety practice in a meeting. No, again! It must be on the frontlines!
This week, have everyone make at least one daily Quality Safety Contact. Have them to report it back to your team so they can learn from each other. Your people will be on a high alert level, possibly preventing a “Dean” accident and making you successful in sending everyone home safely to their families.
And, inspire your people to take this practice home to their families.
… And Pass It On!
Quote from a leader and friend, Gene Shandor, “Safety is like a sled on concrete; you’ve got to constantly push it!”
Faced with the multitude of problems from the government to the environment as cited by Friedman and Mandelbaum, what are leaders supposed to do without being overwhelmed?
First, we must properly influence people in positions of authority and government in the decisions they make and the actions they take. Be an active citizen, write your congressman, and vote.
Secondly, we each must professionally and personally do everything we can to sustain the business and the planet for the future! One person or organization does not have the ability or capability to save the world. However, we each must do our part to collectively contribute to solutions for the common good. For Frontline Leaders, it can be helpful to frame it like this:
- Focus… rigorously on the job at hand. This means analyzing the situations and facts to know the reality of the best solutions, breaking the work down into manageable steps, and then precisely executing the plan.
- Follow Up… audit and maintain a pulse on the frontline activities to ensure the team is doing what is expected and to see if your personal communications and coaching are properly understood. Look for the loose bricks. If you suspect the team is not “in the fairway,” you must re-engage them with your personal coaching, communicating, and barrier busting.
- Innovate… find new ideas and continuously improve everything to gain a competitive advantage that can help grow the business.
- Grow the Culture… educate, communicate, coach, and inspire the team to grow their character, and hence improve their judgment on the frontlines.
Every leader must daily manage their business as well as focus on the superordinate objective of sustaining our planet. Leaders must precisely find and execute the right plans to reduce the risk and costs of failure. This week, when you finish lunch, regularly remind yourself that your responsibility includes the day-to-day operations of the immediate business as well as a high calling to sustain our society.
… And Pass It On! KB
Quote from Thomas Freidman: “The country that owns green, that dominates that industry, is going to have the most energy security, national security, economic security, competitive companies, healthy population and, most of all, global respect.”