SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Effective Risk Management
In today’s world, more and more top level managers are
asking their employees for help in keeping production
and quality standards high and at the same time are
asking them to keep operating costs down. Many companies
operate on less than a 5% profit margin. As such, any
damaged goods, equipment downtime or an industrial
accident will affect the bottom line.
Our friends at OSHA have concluded that effective Risk
Management of worker safety and health protection is a
decisive factor in reducing the extent and the severity of
work-related injuries and illnesses. Effective management
addresses all work-related hazards, including those potential
hazards that could result from a change in worksite conditions
or practices. Additionally, it addresses hazards whether
or not they are regulated by government standards.
Walking around a facility with a client, I asked him how
many times during the week he or management personnel
took time to look for safety hazards? My client stated,”I
have other folks to do that.” I explained that safety and
profits go hand in hand and it takes everyone to achieve
I then asked him; “Ever hear the phrase safety starts at the
top?” He thought about this for a few minutes and replied;
“Jack, I get the picture.” I explained that I started a new
motivational program that uses the newest management
tools like Lean Manufacturing and created a program called
“FISH.” FISH stands for “Finding Industrial Safety Hazards©.”
It all started in Seattle at the Pikes Place Fish Market.
Whenever I was upset with management not enforcing, or
employees not following, the safety program, I would visit
the fish market.
At the Pikes Place Fish Market the employees and management
hung a sign that read; ”Caution Watch Out For
Low Flying Fish” I found people having fun at work. Lots of
organizations have their vision on the wall, but at Pike
Place Fish Market, the employees bring their unique vision
to life on the sales floor of their workplace every day.
Many have spent a lot of money trying to change culture
at work. Many have spent money on other types of behavior
based programs trying to change the “culture” and have
experienced little or no return on their investments. Why
did they not see a long term return on their investment?
Because they were trying to change culture and behavior
by having safety monitors / observers on the floor watching
people who may be working unsafely.
When the observers were watching, the worker knew they
were being watched and they changed their behavior for a
short period of time. What did they really achieve? Loss of
production and potential loss of profit. Now, imagine a culture
where all of the employees, not just management, take
personal responsibility for safety, health, environment, cost,
quality, etc. and they regenerate that vision every day.
I thought to myself, how can I make safety fun for everyone?
I researched this type of attitude and spoke with a
couple of the workers at the market. I discovered that the
fishmongers keep their passion and playfulness alive
through a deep, daily and very personal commitment. I
thought, what better way to increase safety awareness
than having fun looking for safety, health and environmental
problems at work, not only on the factory floor but
in the offices, in the operating documents or how we
received and shipped our products.
Some people are sharks, some are like an octopus,
while other are like flounders. Once in a while you get a
bass or a carp but never-the-less, you do get a fish and
each organization has their own style of fish.
Now I am not saying that people are like fish but there
are some similarities. When I conduct training in “FISH,” I
give each attendee a hat to wear that looks just like the type of fish that fits their personality.
I explain that like a school of
fish, each has their own personality,
style and they have the capability
to add fun to a safety program
in their own work environment.
I also found that given the
chance, with meaningful education
and training in finding safety,
health, and environmental problems
and rewarding employees for
coming up with corrective measures
that brings profit back to the
company, can be both profitable
and fun, just like the fish market.
I also want to direct you to a
free program that federal OSHA
has developed. This program
can be downloaded and if properly
used can also add money
back into your profit margins.
Developed in 1998, OSHA’s
“$AFETY PAYS” program is
interactive software to assist
employers in assessing the
impact of occupational injuries
and illnesses (with Lost Work
Days) on their profitability. It
uses a company’s profit margin,
the average costs of an injury or
illness and an indirect cost multiplier
to project the amount of
sales a company would need to
generate in order to cover those
costs. It can be downloaded at
www.OSHA.gov. The program is
in their e-tools section.
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.