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How do you create a culture of safety?

Hi Everyone, I would love to gain some insight from all of you around the question...How do you create a culture of safety? Why do some mine operations have it and others don't?

Darcey Baker
When I say that management is under-trained, I mean that with regard to operational procedures and how safety procedures impact operations. Often times, mid and upper levels of management will attempt to interact with operational personnel, but have little or no background experience in specific safety procedures regarding specific operational tasks. This is detrimental to enhancing the culture of safety from the standpoint of top - down management postitively impacting the culture.
Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership ApproachI don't know that training is necessarily the solution, and of course, this will vary from company to company and even within companys from location to location. Training can certainly help, but the depth of knowledge requires a base of experience rather than just an understanding of the statistics, knowing the impacts ($$$) of a negative safety program to the bottom line, or simply stating some safety goal (i.e. zero LTA, as an example) for the coming quarter.
The interaction between mid and upper level management and the front line operations employees must be sincere, genuine, and provide an exchange of pertinent information (both directions). Joe Average Miner may be "just a miner", but that doesn't mean they aren't aware of when someone from the Corporate Office is trying to blow smoke, which is intuitively counter-productive, particularly when management is trying to change the course a company may be on. To get every member of the staff on board, requires postive feedback and dialogue. Force-feeding iron-fisted policies may succeed in the creating a culture of safety, but they won't sustain it.
Establishing a Safety-First Corporate Culture in Your Organization: An Integrated Approach for Safety Professionals and Safety CommitteesFor management to achieve an effective safety culture, they need to be able to recognize hazards (first hand), the challenges of a safety procedure and how it impacts operations, and be willing to personally correct unsafe behavior when they see it (first hand), without the implications of being condescending, negative, or administering unduly harsh discipline (unless, of course, the witnessed safety infraction warrants such discipline). Further, this type of management (from all levels of supervision) must be firm, fair, consistent, and rational. It requires constant diligence, particularly from front-line supervisors, support and interaction from mid-level management, and support and occasional interaction from upper levels of management.
Creating a true safety culture requires implementation from the top down, requires diligence and tenacity, and won't occur quickly. Simply talking about it at meetings won't make it happen. Active participation from all levels of management requires consistent interaction with all levels of the workforce, positive reinforcement, and eliminating the emphasis of "production above all else".
Just Culture: Balancing Safety and AccountabilityDetermining the punitive actions required for enforcement of safety protocol is dependent upon the workforce, the locale, availability, quality, and trainability of the local labor pool; and is an entirely different subject.
Why operations acheive various levels of success, IMO, is directly impacted by how well versed the different levels of management are in safety procedures, how much time and effort different levels of management try to positiviely and consistently instill values of safety, and the means by which management enforces the policies regarding safety. It is difficult for Joe Average Miner to take safety seriously when there is no discipline for infractions, when severe discipline is commonplace for minor infractions, or when discipline is inconsistent. It is also difficult for Joe Average Miner to take safety seriously when there is no clear direction from management personnel when those supervisors are under-trained, ill-informed, or dis-engaged from the process of safe production.

Kirt Murray
I think the breakdown occurs most often because of the lack of commitment from the top. Without the commitment from the top there is minimal encouragement to develop a safety culture in an operation. Managers must consistently encourage safe practices. Everyone must be held accountable for unsafe acts. Employees must be trained to follow safety procedures all the time, but especially when things are busy. Managers must reinforce safety first then production without exception.


Steven Cohen, MS

3rdSteven Cohen, MS

Director of Operations at Meyvn Consulting Ltd.
Greater Chicago Area 
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