Introduction: The origin of most Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) programs can be traced back to DuPont’s Safety Training Observations Program (STOP), which was first introduced into our industry by a forward-thinking safety advisor at Aggregate Industries in the 1990’s. STOP type programs provide a structured mechanism for Directors/Senior Managers to engage directly with workers on-site and to demonstrate leadership by identifying and praising safe behaviours and highlighting and correcting unsafe behaviours. These programs have contributed significantly to the improvements in safety culture and reductions in injuries seen across our industry. Hanson’s own version of STOP is called ‘Safety Conversations’.
The Problem / Improvement Opportunity: During 2021, our safety advisors’ audits and our incident investigations highlighted the fact that non-compliance with safety-critical procedures was becoming a significant risk. In theory, this same issue should have been reflected in our Safety Conversations data, but it was not. The Safety Conversation data highlighted many relatively minor PPE infringements but painted a generally positive picture of compliance with safety critical procedures.
Problem Analysis: Hanson is a “management systems-oriented” company and to control safety critical activities our management system procedures have become increasingly detailed over the last fifteen years. This level of detail provides an effective method of controlling risk, but (and it’s a big ‘but’) only if all employees remember each detailed step of the procedures and fully and consistently implement them. Our incident investigations were showing us that our employees were not consistently achieving this. The increasing complexity of our procedures also had an unanticipated negative impact on our Safety Conversation program. For a director/senior manager to assess whether a safety critical procedure is being fully and correctly implemented he or she needs to know in detail each step of that procedure. With hindsight it was unrealistic to expect directors/senior managers to know or retain this level of knowledge. Consequently, safety conversations have tended to focus less on the detail of safety critical procedures and more on ‘general safety awareness’ and adherence to universal rules such as PPE compliance.
Solution: Taking a leaf from the aviation industry, Hanson Cement’s Safety department have converted the key steps of each safety critical procedure into a short checklist of Yes/No questions. These checklists have been named ‘SAFE-check’ and are used in two ways:
1) A hard copy poster of each SAFE-check is displayed in the site permit room. It is used by employees as a final check before starting a task, in the same way that a pilot uses a final checklist at the end of the runway before pushing the throttle forward to take off.
2) A phone App version of SAFE-check is uploaded to directors and senior managers phones, enabling them to assess compliance knowledgeably and efficiently with safety critical tasks during VFL Safety Conversations on site.
Please see additional pdf for more information about Safe-check