Safety Leadership

Ode to Augusta: Incidents Still Happen in Perfect Environments

Incidents Still Happen in Perfect Environments


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Last week, Dustin Johnson recorded the lowest score ever and won the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National during an odd, COVID-influenced November timeframe. Several years ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend a practice round at the Masters during its traditional April schedule. As advertised, the course was immaculate with its vividly green grass, azaleas in full bloom, undulating hills which TV can’t fully capture, and expansive grounds without a leaf or twig out of place. Birds even chirped in the trees (which, for some reason, were noticeably absent of squirrels). This hallowed ground was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Almost.

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Convincing someone to work safely

Convincing someone to work safely



By Madison Hanscom, PhD

It is near impossible to change someone’s mind — but this can feel like an important mission for leaders and safety professionals. Some try to convince through arguing, others like to give people options to persuade them, many try appealing to emotions, and others use an ‘information overload’ approach that includes facts and figures. But what really works? How can we convince someone to work safely? How do attitudes really change?

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Turnover and safety: How to prevent it

Turnover and safety


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

High turnover can be a safety concern. When there is a revolving door of employees coming in and out of the organization, this can create issues when it comes to sustaining a strong safety record. Because new employees come in without deep knowledge of the job, they are more likely to get into accidents. And it is not their fault — new hires are still gaining experience and training. You are only as good as the people on your job site, and if this is constantly changing, this can create safety boundaries. A small degree of turnover is warranted and keeps the culture stronger by weeding out people who are not a great fit, but if too many people are leaving, this is a sign something is wrong.

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Turnover and safety: How it hurts

Turnover and safety 2

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Many in safety have seen it firsthand - high turnover can be a safety concern. When there is a revolving door of employees coming in and out of the organization, this can create issues when it comes to sustaining a strong safety record. Because new employees come in without deep knowledge of the job, they are more likely to get into accidents. And it is not their fault — new hires are still gaining experience and training. You are only as good as the people on your job site, and if this is constantly changing, this can create safety boundaries. A small degree of turnover is warranted and keeps the culture stronger by weeding out people who are not a great fit, but if too many people are leaving, this is a sign something is wrong.

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Undergoing organizational change? Reflect on how involved your employees feel

safety during organizational change


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

As companies plan and administer major changes or interventions to improve occupational health and safety, a participatory approach can very well determine success or failure. When employees are involved in the process, their voices shape the program into something that is a better fit for the people and the culture. There is no reason a group of leaders far removed from the average worker should be creating change initiatives in isolation. This can lead to a program that is out of touch with what is needed by the people, and it can also hurt buy-in and momentum. Many researchers have shown that a participatory approach is an explanatory variable for a successful organizational intervention (1). It also is related to increased fairness and justice perceptions throughout the process.

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Improve Your Safety Culture Today: Part 5 of Five-Part Blog Series

Communication_Optimal Safety Culture


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Several years ago, I published a book with Government Institutes entitled, “Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention.” The book was designed to be a user-friendly guide for leaders to improve safety culture and performance. Here are key takeaways from the book that may help your safety improvement efforts. Each of the five sections in Figure 1 will be detailed in this 5-part blog series. The first four focused on ways to improve safety leadership, systems, people factors, and behaviors. The final installment will address improving one-on-one safety communication.

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Giving better feedback for a safer workplace (part 3)

Feedback and safety Part 3

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

As discussed in
Part 1 of this blog series, feedback is a central component to safety. Conversations about safety are what motivate your people, fuel their growth, guide them in the right direction, inform future behavior, clarify expectations, and help them to attain goals. Although most of us know this from experiencing it in the field firsthand, researchers have shown that safety feedback can save lives. Delivering effective feedback can feel elusive, so check out the second blog in this series to revisit the foundation for providing great safety feedback to your people Part 2. Finally, below are some tips for giving better feedback for a safer workplace: Read More...

What does great safety feedback look like? (part 2)

Feedback and safety Part 2

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Leaders sometimes forget how fundamental it is to provide effective feedback. Fortunately, great feedback is pretty basic. First and foremost — it is specific. It targets someone’s safety behavior and not who they are as a person. For instance, if you tell someone they are too quiet and withdrawn, that is picking at their character (who they are as a person = hard to change) and not at their behavior (easier to change). Instead, you might let them know specifically what behavior they need to improve (“I would really appreciate it if you would speak up in pre-job brief meetings” ). This type of feedback is much less frustrating for the person on the receiving end because they are able to change something specific in order to improve. Second, great feedback includes details on how to develop (e.g., “If you could speak up in pre-job briefs each morning, even if it is just a brief comment that you understand the hazards, didn’t see anything unusual yesterday, and do not have anything else to add” ). It will include coaching that is specific and actionable for what to do in the future. Third, the timing is right. Great feedback doesn’t come a week after an employee does something great or poorly — it is immediate. People are more likely to change their behavior in the future if they receive feedback in close proximity to what they did that needs to change or continue. Fourth, the pace is right. It is not wise to rely on performance appraisal meetings to give feedback. This should be a more frequent process that includes both informal and formal components.
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Feedback and safety: The empirical case (part 1)

Feedback and safety Part 1

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Feedback is a central component to safety. Conversations about safety are what motivate your people, fuel their growth, guide them in the right direction, inform future behavior, clarify expectations, and help them to attain goals. There is no lack of empirical support to illustrate the importance of feedback in the safest workplaces. For instance, an intervention that increased the frequency in which leaders had safety-related interactions and feedback with their employees produced an impressive increase in PPE use (from 25% to 73% after the 8-week experiment) (1). These changes were still present when the researchers went back to the worksite and measured 5 months later, and there was also a significant decrease in injuries. In another study, researchers gave supervisors 2 individualized feedback sessions about how much they integrate safety and productivity-related issues in daily verbal exchanges (and were encouraged to increase the importance of safety messages during daily exchanges) (2). After the 12-week intervention phase, employees reported higher safety climate perceptions and safety behavior.
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Improve Your Safety Culture Today: Part 4 of Five-Part Blog Series

Behavior_Optimal Safety Culture

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Several years ago, I published a book with Government Institutes entitled, “Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention.” The book was designed to be a user-friendly guide for leaders to improve safety culture and performance. Here are key takeaways from the book that may help your safety improvement efforts. Each of the five sections in Figure 1 will be detailed in this 5-part blog series. Parts
one, two and three focused on improving safety leadership, systems, and people factors. In part 4, understanding and improving safety behaviors will be addressed.

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The Color Psychology of Safety Culture

The color of Safety Culture


By KyoungHee Choi

The color psychology is a fascinating field, deeply rooted in brain activity and human nature. Color psychology is a very important tool not only for safety culture but also for artists, designers and marketers. Color stimulates our brain and from the ancient times has proven to be a useful alternative psychotherapy. A lot of industries use color to drive caution and reduce risks and injuries. When it comes to safety, colors are an important way to communicate hazards to workers. The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) has established rules governing the meaning of specific colors. Standardized safety colors can help people easily recognize and understand the message being conveyed to improve safety.

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Improve Your Safety Culture Today: Part 3 of a Five-Part Blog Series

People_Optimal Safety Culture


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Several years ago, I published a book with Government Institutes entitled, “Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention.” The book was designed to be a user-friendly guide for leaders to improve safety culture and performance. Here are key takeaways from the book that may help your safety improvement efforts. Each of the five sections in Figure 1 will be detailed in this 5-part blog series. In parts
one and two, key recommendations to improve safety leadership and systems were provided. In part 3, strategies to improve people factors for safety are addressed.

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Improve Your Safety Culture Today: Part 2 of Five-Part Blog Series

Systems_Optimal Safety Culture


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Several years ago, I published a book with Government Institutes entitled, “Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention.” The book was designed to be a user-friendly guide for leaders to improve safety culture and performance. Here are key takeaways from the book that may help your safety improvement efforts. Each of the five sections in Figure 1 are detailed in this 5-part blog series. In
part one, ways to improve safety leadership were explored. In Part 2, we’re addressing strategies to improve safety systems.

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Improve Your Safety Culture Today: Part 1 of a Five-Part Blog Series

Leadership_Optimal Safety Culture

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Forward thinking leaders are continually searching for ways to advance safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Several years ago, I published a book with Government Institutes entitled, “Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention.” The book was designed to be a user-friendly guide for leaders to improve safety culture and performance. Here are key takeaways from the book that may help your safety culture improvement efforts. Each of the five sections in Figure 1 will be detailed in this 5-part blog series starting with
leadership.

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Ten Safety Leadership Skills for Success

Ten Safety Leadership Skills for Success

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

There are
fundamental leadership skills leaders need to exhibit to demonstrate genuine “owning it” for safety. These safety leadership skills represent observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes that contribute to increased discretionary effort and improved organizational safety culture. Caring about safety is not enough. Good intentions are put into practice through behaviors and skills. The following ten skills and proficiencies reflect safety leadership best practices.
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Engagement and safety: Are they related?

Engagement and safety Are they related


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Employees are engaged when they feel energized, dedicated to their job, and absorbed in their work (1). Engaged employees give companies a competitive advantage because they are willing to go the extra mile. Engagement researchers have found that employee engagement is associated with less burnout and absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, less turnover, stronger organizational commitment, better job performance, and an improved service climate (2). In addition to the organizational benefits, engaged employees experience health benefits such as lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher levels of perceived physical health, and quicker recovery time from work (3).

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How to promote employee engagement in a safety context

How to promote employee engagement in a safety context

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

An engaged workforce has strong, positive effects on safety. Engaged employees are more willing to go the extra mile and take pride in their work, so it should be a goal for leaders to create an environment for engagement in order to promote a safer workplace. Consider the following when developing your plan to promote employee engagement in a safety context:
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Improving Safety Leadership Through Self-Monitoring

Improving Safety Leadership Through Self-Monitoring

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Self-monitoring is key factor affecting the human dynamics of occupational safety. It’s defined as
one’s motivation and ability to interpret social cues from the environment and respond to those cues in a socially desirable way. Low self-monitors act similarly regardless of the occasion; high self-monitors alter their behavior effectively to fit the particular situation (Snyder, 1974). This has also been referred to as the “if-then behavioral signature” (Geller, 2008).

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Soft Skills Training for Leaders: An Investment in Your Culture

Soft Skills Training for Leaders

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Soft skills training is needed at all leadership levels to improve communication, listening skills, and empathy. It also involves increasing the quality and quantity of safety recognition which is often found to be one of the lower scoring items on our safety culture survey. Increasing recognition improves safety culture and increases the probability of safe work practices in the future. This reduces the risk of serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs).

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Safety Role Modeling 101

Safety Role Modeling 101

By Brie DeLisi

“Leadership doesn’t walk the talk” is one of the most common complaints we hear from employees during assessments with organizations that have less mature safety cultures. Many leaders need to understand a couple critical components of their culture if they want to improve safety:
1. Employees are always watching.
2. Actions speak louder than words.
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Self-Motivation Styles of Effective Safety Leaders

Self Motivation Styles of Effective Safety Leaders

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Effective safety leaders have self-motivation styles which help them accomplish organizational goals. Four self-motivation styles (Steers & Porter, 1991) are relevant for understanding the self-motivation of safety leaders.
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Crucial factors for a culture of accountability

Crucial factors for a culture of accountability

By Brie DeLisi

One of the main concerns we hear from our clients is that they want their employees to be accountable when it comes to safety – to follow the safety requirements, to own their mistakes, to speak up in unsafe situations, to look for opportunities for improvement, etc. Accountability and safety ownership is, after all, a sign of very mature safety cultures. In these cultures, there are typically fewer injuries and increased levels of productivity.
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Is a fair workplace also a safer workplace?

Is a fair workplace also a safer workplace


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Attitudes influence behavior.

There are a host of reasons as to why justice perceptions should be of concern to companies. They influence the employee experience, the brand, the reputation of the company, and the customer experience. Justice perceptions are also related to important organizational outcomes like job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, citizenship behavior, trust, turnover intentions, health and stress (1,2). This begs the question —
Does the extent to which workers perceive their organization to be fair have a meaningful relationship with occupational safety?
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The balance between discipline and positive reinforcement in your safety culture

The balance between discipline and positive reinforcement in your safety culture


By Brie DeLisi

In any strong safety culture, both positive recognition and discipline are valuable. However, often organizations find the discipline piece is often considered an ‘easier’ method to drive change. Unfortunately, a focus on discipline without positive reinforcement and recognition will keep an organization at a ‘Compliant’ level of maturity – in which employees will solely focus on how to avoid punishment, rather than owning safety to keep themselves and others injury-free.
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The Power of Peer Feedback to Prevent SIFs

The Power of Peer Feedback to Prevent SIFs

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Peer-to-peer safety feedback is an integral way to improve safety culture and prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Unfortunately, employees often fail to speak up when they observe coworkers’ risky behaviors even though they want to. Survey research shows that more than 90% of respondents believe employees
should caution others when they’re operating at-risk. And yet, only 60% say that actually do provide this feedback. Ironically, people underestimate others’ willingness to receive safety feedback. Specifically, 74% of respondents confirm they welcome safety feedback from peers but only 28% believe their coworkers do. This is an enormous misperception that may cost lives. Most SIFs occur with other employees around. If someone had simply spoken up, lives could have been saved.

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Fires and other natural disasters – are you prepared?

Fires and other natural disasters – are you prepared


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

When it comes to natural disasters, companies with mature safety cultures have robust emergency preparedness plans that are specific to every scenario imaginable. These plans are accompanied by all the resources needed to carry out the action (e.g., training, practice drills, water supply, shelters, power supply).
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How Are Your Safety Systems? A Short Quiz

How Are Your Safety Systems


By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

One of the most important aspects of safety leadership is providing effective safety management systems and a safe work environment. Employees are more likely to be injured if the organization has safety management system failures such as inadequate manpower, unreasonable production pressure, excessive overtime, faulty equipment, insufficient safety training, unclear safety policies, non-existent safety meetings, poor safety communication, and blame-oriented discipline procedures. Leaders improve safety culture by optimizing these key safety management systems:
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Safe working and job autonomy

Safe working and job autonomy

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Research has shown time and time again that when you give employees more control over their work, they are more satisfied, perform at a higher level, and are safer.

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Be a safety champion – and do it loudly!

Be a safety champion


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

A safety champion embodies the notion that safety comes before everything else. These individuals always have safety on the mind. They understand how safety connects to the big picture both inside and outside of work, and they are the backbone of a strong safety culture. Those who work with a safety champion know it, because it feels like someone always has your back.
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COVID-19: A catalyst for safety culture change?

A catalyst for safety culture change

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

COVID-19 has changed our way of life inside and outside of work. It has forced us to rethink the way we work and enjoy time off. Businesses have been hit extremely hard, and most have been forced to make fast decisions to protect workers and customers.
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Can responses to COVID-19 act as a litmus test for safety culture?

a litmus test for safety culture


By Madison Hanscom

The pandemic has created an extremely difficult scenario for many businesses. Amidst the hardship, companies are working to balance the safety of workers and customers along with financial survival. This begs the question — will the way in which a company responds to COVID-19 be a reflection of the safety culture?
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The Ultimate Safety Change Buy-In Guide

The Ultimate Safety Change Buy-In Guide


By Brie DeLisi

Creating and implementing safety changes in an organization is no easy task. There are so many opportunities for failure – not having a thorough plan, unanticipated roadblocks, a lack of resources, ill-suited programs and procedures. Even if all of those items are covered, the most impactful is whether or not there is buy in from the greater employee population. Below, we’ll cover tips on how to generate employee buy-in when making changes to organizational safety.
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A Safety Leadership Quiz: How Well Do You Stack Up?

How Well Do You Stack Up

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

Previous blogs have addressed numerous ways leaders need to “show up” for safety. Unfortunately, leaders sometimes inadvertently encourage at-risk behavior by failing to praise safe behaviors, ignoring at-risk behaviors, over-emphasizing production, and modeling risky behaviors. Here’s a quick summary:
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