Safety Assessments Can Lead to Double-Digit Injury Reduction
Most of the time, I hear safety managers say, “I’m so busy with accidents and injuries that I don’t have time to stop them”. But there is a quick way to reduce those numbers while still creating a process that will prevent accidents. And that is safety assessments.
So, let’s talk about how I used safety assessments to have double-digit injury reductions and create a process that will build a great safety culture.
Prepare the Safety Assessment Process
To start preparation, prepare the safety assessment forms that will be used. And to do so, you’ll need to conduct research about the most recent accidents that happened. For this, you’ll need to sift through 1 to 3 years of accident history.
When sifting through the records, take note of what tasks they were doing when the accidents happened. Also, you’ll need to look into the possible behaviors that contributed to the accident. And then think about what can be done differently so the accident won’t happen.
Once you’ve figured out the best behaviors that should be followed in the workplace, make a list of behaviors and then group them. Make sure the listed behaviors are doable as well. Then, use that list as a checklist with rating scales for the assessment.
Then, the next preparation that needs to be is training your supervisors to properly use the safety assessment forms. You’ll need to involved them because supervisors must be in charge of safety compliance. Not only does it lessen your burdens but also instills them the best behaviors in the workplace.
Let Other Departments Assess Other Departments
Once you’ve done all that, the forms and training, the next step is to let the supervisors of one department assess another department. Putting a fresh and neutral perspective on the assessment. They share their findings with the department when complete. This is the secret to making this all work.
The assessments they’ve made to each of each other will be very objective. Thus, accurately pinpointing the problem areas of each department. And because each department assessed each other, they’ll start to prioritize building a great safety culture inside the company.
Do Your Own Assessments for Counter-check
Once you’ve got all that in place, this doesn’t mean that your job is done. What you’ll need to do is follow through with the process that you’ve created. And that means checking if they are properly doing the assessments and if they’re making improvements accordingly.
To do so, you’ll need to create an assessment of your own and then compare it with the assessments created by others. You’ll notice it if the supervisor is just winging it and just creating random ratings. If so, you’ll need to talk to that supervisor and make sure they do it properly next time.
If they’re doing it properly, give them commendations and continuously encourage them to keep going for better results because effective safety programs mean more than just low injury rates.
This process only takes a day or three to get up and going. And it’s based off the premise of what is measured gets managed.
Many times, we think we don’t have management support for safety. But sometimes, they want to support you but don’t know how. They need direction. And this process tells them exactly how they can help and what to focus on.
Give it a try. And if you’re wanting to learn how to incorporate observations and coaching into this process or more ways to reinforce safe work behaviors, then I encourage you to check out Safety Management Academy and get on the waitlist for the next open enrollment.
How Safety Assessments Led To A Double-Digit Injury Reduction In 6 Months
Safety Brye: [00:00:00] If your injury numbers are high and you're buried in claims, in accident reports and all the paperwork that goes along with it, you have to stop the bleeding, no pun intended, so that you can have some breathing room to actually make improvements, you know need to happen. I have heard the, I am so busy with all the accidents, I don't have time to stop them.
Excuse more times than you know. In fact, I heard it just yesterday, but there's a quick way to calm the chaos. And get your team involved at the same time. So let me share that with you today.
Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year Safety Professional after spending years trainings safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the
[00:01:00] ground up over and over again. I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you.
At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support, and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place.
Let's get to it.
Hello. Hello. Hello, my safety friends. Today I have a story to share with you about a process that I absolutely love to implement at company's right in the beginning of building their safety program. You see when you start from scratch or if you're like the first safety manager that the company's ever hired, likely the injury rate is pretty high, and that's why they hired you, right? And most safety
[00:02:00] managers go right into implementing the foundational pieces to get everything in order. And I do that as well. So I'm not saying that that's a bad thing. You know, I always look at like what is gonna kill somebody or what is gonna shut the company down? And those are the things that I try to put in first.
But after testing out a different approach, I actually now like to start implementing a safety assessment process before I start to rebuild their foundation. And I have found that safety assessments are the absolute best way to reduce injuries. And by calming the influx of accidents and claims, it actually gives me breathing room to develop an effective safety program.
So I wanna go over how you actually do this, and I wanna give you a case study of where I use this and I got some amazing results. Now it all starts with a simple safety assessment form. And if you don't know what
[00:03:00] that is and you haven't been following me for a while, it's something I teach inside a Safety Management Academy.
But I did go over it in the last episode, so I would definitely go back to that episode to learn more. So it starts with that form. And then what I do is I get a list of their last one to three years of claims and accident data. And I determined, you know, what tasks were they working on when the accident happened.
But I also dive deeper and I identify the behaviors that the involved parties, whether it was somebody else who caused the accident or the employee themselves, what behaviors were they actually doing at the time of the accident, and what behaviors would have prevented the accident from happening. Now I wanna caveat here because I am a huge advocate of when you do an accident investigation. The whole reason you do that is to
[00:04:00] find what the company could have done differently to prevent the accident from happening. I'm not about blaming the employee, all right? I'm all about looking at the environment, looking at the company practices in order to figure out how we could have prevented that from happening.
However, all accidents, unless they are an act of God, involves some sort of human behavior component, right? And assessments are all about human behavior. They're not about the environment or the situation or the equipment, right? It's about the behavior of the employees around there. So I don't want you to think like you can do assessments, and you don't have to be looking at what the company could do differently or how we can engineer out that hazard.
All right? That's a whole another episode, right? So anyway, after this deep dive into the accidents, what I end up with is a list of behaviors that we wanna see followed. And honestly, at like this
[00:05:00] point, it's taken me like a day to do this. So as I'm walking into a new organization and a new company like, this is you know, I might do a hazard assessment around the whole place on day one, but maybe this is what I'm doing day two.
I mean, it's like literally that quick now. So what I do is I take all of those behaviors and then I categorize them. So that way we have like with like right, or department with department, and I try to whittle them down into groups of seven to 10 because the idea is that you get this group of behaviors together and then you observe those behaviors and you don't wanna be observing too many behaviors at one time.
So I try to do seven to ten. And to get them onto one form. So when I'm all done, I end up having a group of safety assessment forms that we're gonna use in this process and this program, right? And with those assessments ready to go. So here I am, like just one day into the project. With those assessments ready to
[00:06:00] go, then it's time to get the management team involved. Now I wanna remind you, as a safety leader, you are the guide on the side. You are the coach of the coaches. So although I use assessments in my programs to measure compliance with my programs, not compliance with the regulations, but compliance with my programs and with my safe work practices for this project, it's not gonna be me doing it.
I'm not the one doing the assessments. So remember we're starting the safety program and there is a lot of work to be done. So I am putting in this process to free up my time and at the same time, I am being very strategic in my engagement. So I am like strategically making my management team engage in safety. And I'm setting up a foundation of a safety
[00:07:00] culture. So one of the things I teach in Safety Management Academy is becoming a safety influencer. And one of those pillars is strategic engagement. And this is one of the steps that I use to do that. As I become very strategic in going, like, I don't wait for people to get engaged on their own.
I give them tasks that strategically engaged them . So this is one of the things I do, and if you think about how this whole process goes, I'm doing the background and the foundation work. I'm doing the behavior research. I'm looking at what we have and what the safe work behaviors are and how we mitigate those hazards.
I'm building that foundation, but then it gets handed over to the management team. And then the manager team actually does the boots on the ground work. I'm just the guide on the side, and this is many times when I tell people that and I'm like, you're the coach of the coaches. They believe it, but their processes are not in place that actually make them the coach of the coaches. This is how I strategically develop
[00:08:00] my programs so that way I am the coach of the coaches. All right, so getting back on track. So I have all my assessments created and now I go to the management team and I want to train my frontline supervisors how to complete an assessment. How you actually use the assessment form, how you enter it, how you can share it, how a score is developed.
You know, all of this stuff about the assessment form and how they can be very quantitative in their process as much as possible. Getting them to understand that they are a neutral third party and they need to judge every movement the same, regardless of who's doing it or the situational piece. Right?
It's like did they bend their knees while they were lifting? Yes. Or. Well, they bent 'em halfway. Okay, that's marginal. Did they bend them at all? No, you know, that's getting them to understand is just numbers. It's just numbers, right? So I teach them how to do the form and then once they are trained on how to do it, I then task them to do a set number of assessments.
[00:09:00] And this set number of assessments might be. By day, it might be by week. Now, ideally you want them doing a couple a day, but depending upon your operations, that might be too taxing on them. Right? And we're trying, we're going into this new organization or starting up a safety program. We wanna make sure that we are not putting a lot of burden on the operations team because that will create pushback.
We want to create teamwork. So we might go to them. What is a realistic number that you can complete if each one takes you 15 minutes? What is a realistic number that you can complete in a week? And then work with your management team to come up with that set number. Cuz it all depends upon the operations.
Alright, now here's the secret to getting this to work because if I just gave it to my supervisors and said, go do assessments, not necessarily gonna work as planned. You don't
[00:10:00] have your supervisors assess their own employees. You have them assess other supervisors employees. So let's say that we have warehouse Joe and we have driver Mike, and we have production Sue.
We have Warehouse Joe do an assessment on driver Mike's employees. And driver Mike does an assessment on production Sue's employees and production Sue does an assessment on Warehouse Joe's employees, right? So it's everybody looking at everybody's stuff. And then maybe the next assessment it's warehouse
joe is looking at production Sue and production Sue is looking at driver Mike. You've gotta mix and match, and you have to tell them it's okay that they need to be doing assessments on other supervisors and to kind of alternate which supervisors are doing the assessments on. It might be like, this week you're doing Sue, and next week you're doing Mike, or whatever it happens to be. But the key is, is to get them to be looking at other people's
[00:11:00] employees. And what this does is it creates fresh eyes for that department. It makes it a lot more neutral because that supervisor doesn't have any skin in the game. Right. And it actually, one of the unintended consequences, I have a list down in my notes that we'll definitely get to, but one of the unintended consequences is that it actually builds rapport within the supervisors.
So it's really awesome. So you just, that is the secret sauce is they don't assess themselves. They walk over to another department and they assess that department. So as you're training them, you gotta make sure that they understand those safe work behaviors for every department. That's awesome. And then once they're done with the assessment, they hand it over to that supervisor.
The results are given to the supervisor, the department that they assessed, or the manager if you want. Right. And essentially those results are that department's marching orders. Those results will tell them exactly what
[00:12:00] their problem area was at that given time and what behavior they need to start reinforcing.
And it's likely gonna be a topic of their next pre-shift meeting. If your teams do that right, it's gonna be their focus until they get their next round of results. So it's supervisors assessing other supervisors and sharing the results among themselves. I'm not involved at this point. They don't give me those results.
They don't share those results with me. It's all within them. Now, I have set up this program before where they did share those results and then I reported on it. But when I'm building a brand new safety program, I'm too busy to be monitoring their results. I want them to be taking ownership of this and by me not getting involved in the process and just saying, you go do this,
and maybe give me a check mark that it's done. Don't gimme the results. But yeah, it's been done. That way I can hold them accountable for doing it,
[00:13:00] but it's all done amongst themselves. This is how culture is built. I don't have to tell them to do this. They end up doing it themselves. And then what I do is I come in on my own and do my own assessment.
I come in and I judge myself as a neutral third party, and the way I always like to put it is that when I know my results are not gonna be lying, there's always the chance supervisors are pencil whipping always, just because they have so many conflicting goals. But I, my only goal is to improve safe work behaviors.
So I know my assessment's gonna be honest, so I come in and do those same assessments. And when I'm sharing reports and when I'm sharing results, I am sharing my data, not theirs. Right? But the thing is, is if they're doing this and their results are not matching mine, it just means somebody's not telling the truth. You're not
[00:14:00] really helping the matter. But honestly, I don't think it matters anyway. As long as they're doing something, it's going to end up moving the needle. And positive results, and there are always, every time I have done this, there has been positive results. Like literally just even me doing assessments and posting my results gives me positive results.
It encourages them to keep going. So they're doing the assessments among themselves, and then I come in and I give an overall score for their department, and they see their department improving. What are they gonna do? They're gonna keep doing it because they're gonna get kudos for having positive results.
Now, once I get to the point in developing my safety program where I'm actually showing the value safety is providing in terms of HR and quality and productivity and efficiency, right? Once I can actually take my results and compare it to those numbers, then it really
[00:15:00] takes off after that. And I mean, that's the goal of an overall safety program is showing the value that you provide to the organization.
But we're just talking the first few weeks, the first few weeks, you need to put something like this in place. So when I first had this idea, I was actually a regional safety manager, and I had three locations who were experiencing extremely high injury rates. It was like I took this job as a Regional and I had so many locations, but a lot of them had high injury rates.
But I was like, you know, Pareto principle, I can't work on all of 'em. Let me identify the 20% that are causing 80% of the problems. And I was like, what can I do with that 20%? So I picked three. I probably should have picked five, but I picked three. And their industry, at the industry average for them, they were all within the same industry, is around a five. It's like sometimes it's a five point you know, five, sometimes the 4.95, but it's
[00:16:00] generally a T C I R of five per 100 employees is the way T C I R works, total case incident rate. But they were upwards of 15 to 20. I believe, one of them was like 19 point something or another, right? So the only change I made within those three locations was implementing this process.
and I did monitor the results weekly. I had their supervisors actually emailing me their assessments every week because this was a test and we were seeing whether or not it worked. And within the first few weeks they were all seeing a difference and within three months their numbers actually started to go down.
So like within the first few weeks they started to see like just a lot more engagement of their employee. And then within the first three months, like their numbers started to go down. And then at the six month mark is when I ended the experiment and I was like, okay, it's up to you if you keep doing it, but you're not reporting it to me anymore. Just report amongst yourselves. And out of the three
[00:17:00] locations, two out of three of them got below a five for an in, for an injury rate when we actually normalized it for the same time period because six months compared to a year, a normal T C I R is done for a year. I was only doing this experiment for six months.
The one that did not get any results, they actually stayed stagnant. What I found out was they weren't actually implementing the program. They did it for like two weeks and then after that they didn't do anything. So I just could never get their management team to hold their people accountable to actually do the work, which is crazy because they did the work.
Everybody else saw these amazing results, but it allowed me to have a control group. So I had a control group that was taught the process, but only implemented it for a couple of weeks, and I had two other groups that implemented it every single week for a six month period, and they saw amazing results. And there were a lot of unintended consequences that I didn't realize was a
[00:18:00] thing within these organizations. They had better rapport between their departments, so the, the departments themselves, like if you ever have like a day shift, night shift argument type of thing, or production over warehouse or you know, the maintenance shop over the transportation, I have no idea what your departments are.
If you ever have any animosity between the departments like this actually helped build rapport between the departments and comradery between the team. Our, the supervisors as a whole started to see each other as a team instead of like team warehouse, team production, team transportation and that type of thing.
They were all together, so it brought this very large organization together and they started to just look out for each other. So actually they weren't doing an assessment, but they were walking through another person's department. They would automatically call out the supervisor and say, Hey, I saw one of your guys doing this and blah, blah blah.
So anyway, it was really, really cool the unattended consequences of building the safety culture with this.
[00:19:00] Cuz when I first did this experiment, it was not to build safety culture, it was to get their numbers down. But it really had this awesome impact on the culture of the facility. Now, I know that for at least a year, because I was still over those locations, that for at least a year they did keep up the assessments on their own, and one of the locations actually got below a two T C I R in a very high hazard industry.
So that was very surprising. But here's the thing, and this is what I want you to take away from today's episode. Is that the process only takes a couple of days to get up and going. Depending on how quickly you can get everybody trained. You can have this going by next week, and it's based off the premise of what gets measured, gets managed. And I also like to add to that what gets shared improves because it's not just
[00:20:00] about measuring the results, it's sharing them with the employees as well. And many times we think that we don't have management support for safety or we argue that our management team isn't doing anything, but sometimes they wanna support you.
They just don't know how to do it. They need some direction. And that's what this process gave these teams. It told them exactly what they needed to focus on. It took the thought process out of it. It was just like, here you go. Here's your problem area. Focus on that for this week. They get the next assessment.
Here's your problem area. That's what I'm gonna focus on now. They would just pick the worst one from the assessment. We wouldn't have them look at all the behaviors, just like pick one, the worst one from the assessment, and that's what you focus on until you get your next result. I want you to give this a try.
And if you're wanting to learn how you incorporate this in your organization, or even incorporate observations in coaching, which are complimentary
[00:21:00] to assessments, Or more ways that you can reinforce those safe work behaviors, then I definitely encourage you to check out Safety Management Academy. It is a comprehensive safety management program that focuses on becoming that influencer, becoming the coach of the coaches, and being strategic in your engagement to build your safety culture.
I do believe that by the time this gets released, open enrollment will be closed, but you can get on the wait list so that way you're notified during the next open enrollment period. So that's what I have for you today, my safety friends. So we will chat again soon. Bye for now.
Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I wanna invite you to check out Safety Management Academy. This is my in-depth
[00:22:00] online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support, and employee participation throughout your processes.
Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever? Then you have got to join me and your fellows Safety Scholars over at Safety Management Academy, just go to thesafetygeek.com/sma to learn more and to get started. That's thesafetygeek.com/sma and I will see you in our next students only live session.
Bye for now.
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Highlights From This Episode:
- Safety Assessments Are The Best Way To Reduce Workplace Injuries
- How To Dive Deeper And Identify The Behaviors Involved In An Accident
- Sharing Your Safety Assessments Data Can Give Positive Results
- Why Safety Assessments Can Build A Strong Safety Culture
- Safety Assessments Give The Right Direction To The Management Team On What To Prioritize
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
So, there you have it, that’s how you put a safety assessment process in place. If implemented, you’ll see the results as soon as 6 months. And although this might take up a bit of time to put in place, it’s all worth it because it will help you build a great safety culture.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.