Unless we’ve been living on a beautiful sandy beach somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where none of what goes on in the world of business really matters, most of us will have heard of the work and approaches of W. Edwards Deming.
Often referred to as the “father of quality,” Deming’s Fourteen Points of Management Obligations have been fundamentally responsible for shaping our thinking about
how to manage a quality approach
We’ve also recently been exposed (and in some cases overexposed) to Larry the Cable Guy’s less elegant approach to just, “Git-R-Done!” They really are both saying the same things…well, sort of.
The links between quality and safety are natural because they are both fundamentally about
doing things right,
so let’s take a bolder step and actually edit Deming’s approach. With apology to the late, great W. Edwards Deming, let’s reword his 14 points and apply them to our management of safety so we can, ‘Git-r-done safely.’
Thanks to Larry for adding a bit of simple logic to it.
Fourteen points of safety management obligations:
1. Create constancy of purpose for improvement of safe production with a plan to become competitive and to stay in business. Decide to whom top management is responsible and what exactly they are responsible for.
OH&S Policy statements attempt to do this through commitment statements. Make it real by making the culture one of “responsibility to others” for making safety happen through activities. Make everyone responsible for their involvement in making the place of work safe for themselves and others.
2. Adopt the new philosophy: we are in a new economic age. We can no longer live with commonly accepted levels of downgrading incidents and worker injury.
Nothing is more upsetting to me than to see us congratulate each other for reductions in injury rates that we’ve artificially manipulated by early return to work programs and re-classifying injury rates. Everything that represents an error needs to be investigated and fixed…enough claiming success by lying to ourselves. When something unplanned happens we need to react in a positive way. We now have an opportunity to fix a problem we didn’t know of or had failed to manage before now.
3. Cease dependence on error counting and reduction as a way to achieve safety; require, instead, statistical evidence that safety is built in.
Looking for and counting errors (injuries) after the fact is like driving a vehicle while looking out the rear window. Watch the process and measure the process as it happens. The process of safety can be managed through statistical process control. There will be observable evidence that safety is happening.
4. End the process of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, depend on meaningful measure of safety along with price. Eliminate suppliers that cannot qualify with statistical evidence of safety.
Selecting contractors and suppliers by their injury rates just makes liars out of them and has them reducing their rates by early return to work programs. Measure and require your contractors/suppliers to demonstrate that they have a safety system that works and not simply by producing a “certificate” that they have been audited. We’ve known for a very long time that very unsafe companies can pass most of the popular audit instruments.
5. Find safety problems. It is the management's job to work continually on the prevention system.
The amount of resources a corporation spends on safety management matters a great deal. Getting safety results requires an investment of both time and money. Without this investment of time and money we are really just wishing for safety to happen and not actually managing it to happen.
6. Institute modern methods of safety training on the job.
Put away the 20-minute DVD that is supposed to give you due diligence and train all of your employees and contractors magically by watching a slick presentation of hundreds of critical issues. Humans need to be engaged and encouraged to gain skills. Stop trying to do safety to people. It doesn’t work.
7. Institute improved means of supervision of production workers. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer production numbers to safe production, and improvement of safety will automatically improve productivity.
The return on investment for making a workplace safe has been clearly demonstrated. Removing downgrading incidents is simply good for business. We can’t to allow well-trained, engaged workers to be injured.
8. Drive out fear so that everyone can work effectively, efficiently and safely for the company.
Stop yelling when we’ve had an incident. Be concerned about the loss especially if someone is physically injured, but stop the negative reaction. The huffing and puffing that most organizations do after an incident do much to discourage reporting.
9. Break down barriers between departments.
Link all efforts in the company to safety issues. Make sure that seamless interdepartmental communication is measured and rewarded to make it happen.
10. Eliminate slogans and targets asking for “zero lost-time claims” without providing methods.
Too much of this has been said already…measuring the negative trailing indicators doesn’t tell us how to fix our problems. Focus on the process measures…that’s where all the secrets to incident causation lay.
11. Eliminate work standards that prescribe numerical quotas without quality measurements.
To borrow from Larry the Cable Guy, let’s git-r-done safely! Production measures get production. Safe production measures get SAFE production. Git-R-Done SAFELY is the new credo that will get the results you want
12. Remove barriers that stand between the hourly worker and his or her right to pride of working safely.
If we stop doing safety TO our employees and start engaging them in establishment of our safety culture then they will start doing safety for the right reasons. Making safety a condition of employment and make it “the way it is around here” significantly changes the outcomes and the feelings people have about safety. Being safe at work needs to be the natural state, make it happen by making it positive and build pride because we did this together and not TO you.
13. Institute a vigorous program of education encouragement and engagement.
High employee involvement in safe works…the evidence is in and it’s not debatable. Education through information and involvement is the way to ensure we all understand what helps to make us safe.
14. Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the preceding 13 points.
The management system is perfectly designed to give you what you’re getting. If you are getting a system with high injury rates and tons of negative energy around safety then you’ve simply designed it that way by what you’re doing. Measure and reward folks throughout your organization to ensure we do safety because it’s the way we get positive reinforcement.
I hope we’ve given you some ideas to further the enhancement of your safety efforts. Quality and safety are synonymous in highly efficient and effective cultures. Let’s “Git-R-Done Safely”!
Alan D. Quilley, CRSP is the author of The Emperor Has No Hard Hat – Achieving REAL Safety Results and the president of Safety Results Ltd. a Sherwood Park, Alta. OH&S consulting company. You can reach him at
Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and www.cos-mag.com.