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Optimizing Safety Management: A Deployment Strategy


July 1, 2009
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Most pulp and paper mills have basic safety management systems in place. However, achieving any incremental progress in safety performance starts with all managers, supervisors, and workers understand…

Most pulp and paper mills have basic safety management systems in place. However, achieving any incremental progress in safety performance starts with all managers, supervisors, and workers understanding and agreeing to how all employees can integrate safety into every task, every shift, during every working day. So, rather than focusing on compliance, we should be concentrating on safety fundamentals and on continuous bottom-up action and feedback to reduce risk exposures with the full support of all levels of management.

Foresight is the key ingredient.

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Before starting this exercise, all employees must understand that risk lies where we are going, not where we have been. The emphasis should be on a forward-looking, dynamic strategy of identifying new and/or residual hazards that lie ahead in any work activity and dealing with them as opposed to the “rear view mirror” approach of relying solely on past incident data and rigid safety rules to prevent future incidents. Better to take the rear view mirror and hang it out in front to see the dangers that lie around the corner.

Step 1: Define the proactive work methodologies that facilitate task-based hazard management and exposure control by all employees.

Productivity is like the seat on a four-legged stool; the four legs being production, quality, safety, and cost. Cut or shorten any one leg and we have a productivity problem. Weak performance by any of the four legs decreases enterprise profitability. The first step is to define what a safe and productive worker is and how he/she performs her work.

Step 2: Train all employees in these proactive work methodologies.

This consists of instruction and/or training in simple, practical task-based pre-task planning and risk assessment skills as well as rudimentary project planning skills. In addition, they are trained and shown how to provide essential system performance feedback to superiors by reporting the failures of upstream filters to remove hazards that they observe on every shift.

Feedback is necessary for management, operations, engineering, purchasing, maintenance, training, supervision, and safety/health personnel to improve engineering design safety and upstream safety system hazard filters.

Step 3: Measure that employees are indeed applying these proactive work methodologies.

Immediate supervisors are the best placed to consistently observe and coach subordinates in the application of these proactive work methods.

Step 4: Reward employees for their accomplishments of these proactive work methods.

Every superior should demonstrate some form of positive recognition to subordinates for their application of these desired work methods and the proper utilization of the methodologies.


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