“Safety is our number 1 priority”

What nonsense! Making money is our top priority but done safely

A better phase would be “good safety is good business”. In my experience most, if not all, operations improvements have been aimed at productivity or quality but as a result have impacted positively on safety. For example, every changeover reduction means less time in contact with the process and/or equipment, eradicating tasks eradicates risk and reducing unplanned downtime makes the process safer.

In a previous blog entry I began the discussion on competence; this needs to be demonstrated in three situations, ‘normal’, ‘planned abnormal’ and ‘unplanned abnormal’. Reducing unplanned abnormal events is key to safety. So is it best to attack safety directly? Behavioural based safety observations are of great benefit but are they targeted properly? It seems to me that many people (correctly) use this to highlight near misses in order to learn before the incident occurs. However, the discussion often ends up in a discussion about the more simplistic issues of personal protective equipment (PPE) or failure to follow the procedure. Where is the real improvement here? The better observations I have seen address the problem from both a productivity improvement and safety perspective, where the benefit gained is more for the individual being observed than the observer, and where the action is taken by those observed rather than being handed over to someone else to do.

What is your approach to safety at the moment? How is it working for you? Let me and the other readers know your good practice.

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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