November 16 2020
By: Terry L. Mathis
Silo is a term used in business to describe a department, site or group that tends to isolate itself from the rest of the organization. Safety can be one of these silos, and is such in many cases. The problem with this is that safety overlaps with other silos such as leadership, operations, engineering, maintenance, logistics, technology, etc. Each of these silos has safety issues and may impact the safety issues of other silos.
I was asked to address this issue with a recent client and began by building a collaboration between safety and technology. Safety kept a list of issues that new technologies might address, and a member of the technology team was assigned to look for potential solutions in both new technologies and ones that were coming down significantly in price. Soon, most people on the technology team started looking for solutions and feeding their findings to the designated safety interface person. We then expanded to other departments, starting with engineering, and made a similar list and contact person. Within 4 months we had interfaces between safety and every other silo that impacted was impacted by safety.
The result was a holistic organization-wide safety excellence effort. This is something that organizations can do for themselves if they can't utilize outside help. Start small and grow and publicize the results. Quick wins motivate the process!
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.