Health And Safety

Safety Suggestion Document 1

I was a naval engineering division officer and a engineering safety officer, as a civilian I was a production supervisor over 23 technicians, and this message is to come up with a mindset to reduce the safety incidents that plague this project.  I’ve attended the all hands safety meeting and listen to the many safety events and they have a familiar ring to them, similar to the safety incidents I have observed during my experience as a military officer.

Similar to the military we stressed safety at the junior level but often I’ve observed at a junior level the procedures developed are often forgotten and replaced with the mind set of “Get er Done” the fastest, easiest way possible, if allowed this mind set will always overcome.  My experience is that safety always has to be the first and last thing discussed in every work plan.

Unlike the military, the observed end results are evaluated and even though the task procedure was not followed the results were good, and the once junior level personnel become more senior with this mind set and this thought process perpetuate itself till “Get er Done“ inundates the corporate culture.  Then technology, paper work, and other ingenious ways are used to place a band aid over the gaping laceration that usually bleed out money to our partners.

The fastest way to change corporate culture is through leadership at EVERY LEVEL, to have the mind set of “safety first”.  To ask the questions of existing leader, not “How long did it take you to complete this task”?  But “What Procedure did you use to complete this task”? And “What were your safety concerns”?  And Similar to the military train, train, train, and when you think you have the procedure in your bones train some more.

At the corporate level, there are concern with safety, but there is a problem that arises, in the translation of “safety first” from the office to the field, once that is no longer a problem we will begin to see the corporate culture change, and the reduction of flow of money to our partners.

The military encourages the idea of leadership at every level, this idea is key to change the corporate culture, to encourage people to focus on the idea that will bring success to the division.  To build their seniority encouraging and focusing the idea that will bring the success you seek.

Many styles of leadership propagate out of military doctrine and thought process.  I recently talked to a newly commissioned officer, he used a servant leadership style and he encourage friendship between him and his subordinates, I also used an servant leadership style, but I set up a more rigid hierarchy of position. Neither styles is more correct, the key to a successful  unit, is for every one to know what is expected of them, to operate in a clean and safe environment and to maintain this environment by adhering to the procedure.

In my various military leadership training I experienced a hyper level of critiquing, so harsh that you never become complacent your are always thinking of the next step so you don’t do anything wrong. This level of correction is not necessary, but I feel that some heighten level is.  I remembering listening to a safety leader recalling safety infractions throughout the right away, and the recollection sounded like chaos to me.  There are set rules for operating in the right of way, and I feel that a heighten level of enforcement at every level, translate to “Safety always” culture.

The ideas of safety may be complex and one panacea or cure all to solve the problem is not the solution, but several things need to go wrong for a catastrophic event to happen.  If we can stop the one thing that leads to a cascade of other wrong events and learn from our mistakes.  Maintain good habits  and a heighten attention to safety, and we may able to prevent or mitigate the next catastrophe .


Health, and Safety Suggestion Document 2

CONSTRUCTION IS HARD!  Safe construction is harder. I feel that strong leadership is the solution to many problems, something Balfour Beatty dose not have a lack of.  Safety is a constant uphill fight, and the solutions to safety are often difficult and multi-faceted no one solution can be considered a cure all.  After attending the monthly stand down safety meeting, I was inspired by the response of upper management and Bradford Beatty construction personnel,  the safety culture seemed to be a principal focus, there seamed to be a shift within the ranks.  To maintain this strong safety culture human nature must be considered.  Human nature is sometime hard to decipher, and at times hard to predict, but there is one common theme that dives our decision, the theme is that people are inherently selfish. This document is to provide a suggestion to help maintain a  strong safety culture within the ranks of Balfour Beatty personnel, and hopefully the company will be able to grow and  become more influential within the construction industry.

In psychology there is an idea of internal motivation, and external motivation, internal motivation is a more powerful influential tool than external motivation.    When a safety infraction takes place the response is heavy with external motivation, this is influential because of the “pain” associated with the action, it is after the fact, and temporary, the use of internal motivation can be vastly be more powerful as an influential tool.

The military uses both internal and external motivation, they are used very frequently the use of eternal motivations is well known with veterans, and service members alike.  What may not be as apparent is there use of internal motivation, its use is subtler similar to whisper as opposed to a scream.  The way the military use internal motivation is that more training opportunities, and opportunities for promotions are given the members that exhibit character traits the military seek.  The mind set that if you always follow procedures and standards you will have opportunity to grow and become more influential within the ranks, this idea can be very powerful to help build a sustainable safety culture.

Also, one must consider a paramount conflicting issue to safety, this is complacency. The repetitive nature of a job is good for some industries, such as manufacturing, but not construction. In manufacturing the environment, conditions of the process and many of the variables of the product can be controlled.  In construction the vicissitude of the conditions is always changing, and may be over looked, and lead to unfortunate out comes and catastrophic engineering failure.   This must not be the case, the situation must be evaluated as if this a new task that is always changing and every condition that changed from the previous day needs to be discussed, and a mitigation response to the changing conditions evaluated. Here at Balfour Beatty we have a strong safety team with strong leaders, that guard against complacency, but an idea that could be considered, to combat complacency is to develop a discussion of safety issues before the action takes place, and to always seek method of maintaining the established safety culture, to always push forward, and never slide backward.

Finally, the upper management response during the safety stand down meeting was inspiring, because it felt as if the things the construction team  dose , and the decisions the team makes  are important, at the highest level of the organization.  It is very important to receive praise, concern, of any kind of message from the corporate leaders.  It makes the statement to ever member at that meeting the feeling as though, what you do is important and can be felt by every member within the organization.

In the Military it was driven into me as part of my training, that where ever I go to always try to make things better, with this mind set I hope safety program becomes stronger, becoming part of everything we do, always push forward until we achieve the ultimate goal of ZERO HARM.