The following was published on July 13, 2020 as a LinkedIn blog post by Jason Scott, Global Director of Environment, Health and Safety, Trinseo.
Jason Scott, Global Director of Environment, Health and Safety
While Trinseo is proud to achieve an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) injury rate that is far below our industry’s average, as we considered our vision of achieving zero incidents across the company we determined the only way we could make necessary progress was to focus on improving our safety behaviors.
Using ideas we gained from benchmarking other leading companies and the expertise of a consultant, in 2017 we launched a new behavioral safety program called “Safety on Purpose.” The premise of this program is to actively engage with workers by asking open ended questions to raise hazard awareness and prevent injuries. The program provides core training for select Safety Influencers, who then complete Safety Conversations with employees and contractors. The program creates open, constructive exchanges on work tasks, including the risks involved and behavioral reinforcement to make the task safer. The Safety Conversations are then shared with facility leadership and employees during a Safety Connections meeting where learnings are shared, and actions are taken to improve future safety conversation and reinforce safe behaviors with all employees.
Since the launch of the Safety on Purpose program, we’ve seen a reduction in our OSHA injury rate from .29 in 2017 to .11 in 2019. We’re also constantly finding examples of meaningful safety conversations that have led to changed behaviors. Here are three tips for having productive safety conversations:
Start with “Why”
We are better motivated to do good things when we have good reasons. This includes working safely. Working safely sometimes means more work, so it is good to remind ourselves of why we put in that extra effort. It might be family, or activities we enjoy; but whatever the reason, talking about the “Why” is a good way to start an effective Safety Conversation.
Look at the big picture
The key focus of Safety on Purpose is behaviors, but to make the Safety Conversation as effective as it can be, we need to ensure that we are looking at all opportunities to make the job safer. The person you are speaking with has probably done this job many times and likely knows better than anyone where the blind spots are. They can provide key information on how better design, process control, procedures, or tools can reduce the risk of the task.
Recognize good behaviors
Changing behavior is hard work. The positive consequences of good behaviors are literally non-events; i.e. not getting injured or not insulting the environment. Accordingly, it is important to provide regular reinforcements in the form of positive recognitions. It feels good to have someone thank you for doing the right thing. This is also a great opportunity to close the loop by reminding them of their “Why.”
As we expand this program, we continue to see new ways that Safety on Purpose helps to create constructive conversations around safety. You can learn more about our program in our 2019 Sustainability & CSR report, and look out for our 2020 Sustainability & CSR Report coming soon.