March 07 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway
I had the privilege of assessing the culture of a plant recently that I first visited eleven years ago to assess and help develop an improvement strategy. Wow, what progress. In 2010 they ended the year with an OSHA recordable rate a little above 8; extremely high. Today, they have plateaued well under a one for the past few years, which is why I returned to help identify a more advanced course of action.
When speaking with the workforce, I discovered an opportunity I often find with mature organizations. The more experienced people who have been with the location over ten years have seen the progress of safety moving from a situational priority to truly a core value, reinforced by consistent leadership behavior over time. While impressed with the dedication and visibility of safety in daily conversations and activities, the newer employees weren't as aware of what it took to make this today's reality, including some difficult production decisions for the sake of safety. No surprise, there was some uncertainty about stopping major and complex tasks for safety concerns. The important stories of experiences that changed perceptions and the visible changes to the work environment were not recorded to display and discuss during onboarding processes. They need to be.
Whoever has the loudest voice shapes the storytelling within a culture and will form a narrative without the correct information. Unfortunately, it often isn't the narrative you want. Show and tell your progress repeatedly, so it becomes the common story about your safety journey.
"Something that is decisively worth preserving to a community must be an essential part of a collective history, identity, or narrative." — Mackenzie Finklea
"Progress comes at a price. You have to be willing to make tough calls and take the hits." — Aja Brown
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 650 podcasts, 200 articles and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow and Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers.