Safety & Loss Prevention Blog: Topics for Operationalizing Safety & Loss Prevention into the Business



Systems-Based Approach to Preventing SIFs & Other Organizational Losses

How can organizations reduce or eliminate SIFs (Serious Injuries & Fatalities) and other types of losses that have a significant impact on their people, operations, environment, communities, and overall financial health and well-being? Addressing these challenges requires a proactive, systems-based approach that enhances human performance and behaviors at ALL levels in the organization and fosters a true learning environment.

This approach requires leaders to think and manage differently and challenges industry paradigms and assumptions. Organizations should adopt the three themes presented in their safety and loss prevention systems/programs to improve organizational performance: 1. Study and learn from success, not just failure; 2. integrate the safety and loss prevention system/program into existing organizational systems and processes to achieve business goals and objectives; and 3. implement a leadership development model with a competency roadmap to improve and sustain performance.

The large majority of safety and loss prevention systems focus on the prevention of and learning from failure (e.g., improper risk assessment, at-risk item in a workplace observation, and near-loss or an adverse event that requires an investigation). Learning from these examples is essential to improve an organization’s safety and loss prevention, but the natural industry assumption is that a reduced number of failures equates to a better safety and loss prevention culture. A reduction in failures could be indicative of an effective culture, but could also be attributed to luck or an environment that hides or overlooks issues. To further enhance performance, organizations should also study success –– how and why activities are performed flawlessly. Tasks are performed successfully more regularly and better represent how work is done. These perspectives should be seen as complementary views to improve how all work is performed, which have implications on financial losses, product quality, reliability, environmental and regulatory management, equipment and property damage, process safety, etc. –– not just personal safety.

Because these complementary views can have a significant impact on overall business performance, the safety and loss prevention system should be integrated into an organization’s goals and business objectives. This approach does not come naturally because we all have been taught from an early age to make complexity more manageable by breaking things down into individual parts to try to understand and manage each part individually rather than collectively. This thinking has led leaders to unconsciously design organizations that inadvertently contribute to thinking in silos, not connections and interrelationships. Therefore, safety and loss prevention systems are seen by many as individual or unique activities that are not related to and, therefore, not integrated into the business, which leads to a compliance-based mentality that adds limited value. To properly achieve these results, organizations need to define specific organizational improvement goals (e.g., workplace injuries, process safety management, reliability, environmental and regulatory performance, product quality, financial losses, etc.) and identify the activities and processes that have the greatest impact on them to properly integrate the system into high-risk activities and error-likely situations.

These two unique approaches challenge current industry paradigms and require leaders to think and manage differently. Therefore, organizations need to adopt an effective leadership development and competency roadmap that outlines the key attributes and skills that all leaders need to embody to successfully lead, integrate, and, most importantly, sustain the safety and loss prevention system/program for the long-term. The development process should include visible leadership and workplace engagement principles to enable leaders to learn more about how work is performed, connect with and coach others in the line chain, and develop meaningful relationships that encourage trust and transparency that help facilitate an organizational learning environment that enables collaboration, accountability, and sharing of information. This process is a critical component to organizational development, especially in highly dynamic and ever-changing organizations. By properly addressing these three principles, leaders can establish the conditions for organizational resilience and world-class performance.




Importance of Developing An Effective Case for Change

Answering the age-old question of “why change” is one of the first things for leaders to address in their organization prior to implementing a safety or loss prevention system. Developing an effective case for action is critical to help leaders prepare themselves and their line chain for a successful implementation. People at all levels need to understand & appreciate why the organization is exploring a system implementation, as this can help motivate and create emotional support to act as a catalyst for the organization to move forward.

The implementation of a safety or loss prevention system should be a positive and transformational process for organizations in any industry. Leaders play a key role in the success of the implementation and sustainability of these systems to maximize buy-in and integration into the business to improve organizational performance. In this article, we’ll focus on one key topic for leaders to address in the early stages of preparation for a safety or loss prevention implementation –– developing an effective case for action. In future articles, we’ll address other critical preparation topics for leaders to adopt (e.g., challenging organizational beliefs and assumptions that have the potential to hinder system implementation, recognizing how the system implementation interacts with and is connected to other organizational systems and processes, developing a shared vision for the implementation, and designing the system into day-to-day operations so it becomes “how” the organization performs).

We can all agree that selecting the right safety or loss prevention system, creating an implementation plan, and developing effective trainers to educate the organization are important aspects of any system implementation. Many change efforts fail, not because there aren’t good systems, or the organization didn’t develop effective trainers, but because leaders don’t properly prepare the organization for change. This is why people are often jaded by previous change efforts and view safety or loss prevention systems as a “flavor of the month”. The case for action requires reflection, mental energy, and commitment, but in turn creates the conditions for a successful and sustainable implementation.

Keep in mind that this case for change can be unique for different business lines or departments based on their organization’s needs and goals. For example, a chemical organization’s case for change could be related to an increased amount of work related injuries, Tier 1 process safety events, or product quality issues. A healthcare organization may want to reduce or eliminate injuries for Registered Nurses, hospital-associated infections, medication errors, or coding/billing issues. Additionally, a utility company may also want to reduce or eliminate issues related to worker injuries, cyber-attacks, customer satisfaction, or asset reliability.

Not having a clear case for action is a recipe for disaster for any implementation, let alone one for a safety or loss prevention system. Without a clear case for action, people can’t be educated on the specific issues to address and, therefore, will not likely be motivated to embrace the system implementation; thereby increasing the likelihood that people will just go through the motions and not create sustainable business performance.

At Loss Prevention Systems, Inc., we not only pride ourselves on having a world-class system and a 40+ year proven global track record, but we also assist clients in many different industries prepare their organization for this transformation by assisting clients in their case for action development. Implementing safety and loss prevention systems are a significant investment for companies and it’s important that all of us (clients and internal and external consultants) ensure that the organization is properly prepared for the implementation –– otherwise, it’s like building a house on a bad foundation.




Preparing Leaders Effectively for A Safety & Loss Prevention Implementation

Many safety or loss prevention implementation efforts fail, not because they don’t have a good implementation plan, but leaders don’t prepare properly. In the previous article, we discussed one of the first steps in the implementation of a safety or loss prevention system––developing a case for change. In this article, we’d like to address further steps that leaders should conduct to prepare the organization for the system implementation by (a) recognizing how the system implementation is connected to other organizational systems and processes; (b) being aware of and reflecting on their own beliefs and assumptions regarding previous implementations that may impact their openness and willingness to change; (c) accepting responsibility for new ways of thinking; and (d) challenging beliefs of others in the organization that, if left unchallenged, can significantly hinder the success of the system implementation.

Leaders need to see how the implementation “interacts with and is connected to” other systems and processes within the organization, so it becomes how the organization functions. This is an important part of the process so leaders don’t implement the system that "exists in a silo" from other organizational systems and processes. Systems that are not connected to other organizational systems and processes lose their essential function, and are less successful because the organization views and acts as these systems are an add-on or an after thought.

Leaders must also be aware of and reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions regarding previous safety or loss prevention implementations that can negatively affect their openness and willingness to change. How people view a particular type of change is based on their past experiences regarding what they believe worked best. Very often people are unaware of how their beliefs and assumptions affect their decisions, actions, and behavior. This is why people are often jaded by previous change efforts and they don’t “let go” of these experiences. In other words, it’s ok for leaders to reflect and learn from past experiences, but they shouldn’t let these experiences cloud their judgement or negatively impact future initiatives. What this means is that leaders must assume responsibility for adopting new ways of thinking to create an environment where they are open to new learning and possibilities.

Challenging their own beliefs and assumptions and assuming responsibility for new ways of thinking is critical for leaders to do, but in order for the organization to be as open minded as them, leaders must also engage their direct reports and line chain to do the same; otherwise, these deep-rooted organizational beliefs and assumptions will hinder progress. As a result, the larger organization is better prepared for change and is open to new learning. By accepting responsibility for new ways of thinking and challenging beliefs and assumptions of others, leaders can lay the proper stepping stones to a successful implementation.

At Loss Prevention Systems, Inc., we help leaders prepare their organizations for our Loss Prevention System™ to ensure the implementation is not only effective, but also sustainable. Preparing leaders and the organization is a vital component in the system implementation and must be conducted effectively for long term success.

In our next article, we’ll discuss the importance of developing a shared vision for the implementation and designing the system into day-to-day operations so it becomes “how” the organization performs.




Preparing Leaders Effectively for a Safety & Loss Prevention Implementation

In the previous article, we discussed the importance of leaders assuming responsibility for new ways of thinking and, likewise, challenging others to do the same to prepare their organization for a safety and loss prevention system implementation. In the next steps, leaders should (a) reflect on key structures (i.e., processes, management systems, organizational design, company policies and requirements, etc.) in their organization that can both enhance and hinder the success of the implementation; (b) develop a shared vision; and (c) design the change into the organization.

Organizational structures are critical leverage points for change. Structures refer to how organizational systems, processes, activities, etc. are organized that produces certain patterns of organizational behavior. Structures designed from old ways of thinking will produce status quo performance and yield little change in organizational behavior. Structures that can likely hinder the success of the implementation should be challenged and changed or replaced; however, structures that can enhance the implementation should be touted and magnified. For example, if companies want to reduce safety and loss incidents within their entire operation, but do not include contractors in their respective safety and loss prevention process, they can’t expect the new safety and loss prevention implementation to be successful. In this example, challenging and addressing this structure to include contractors in company safety and loss prevention processes can set the stage for a holistic organizational reduction in safety and loss incidents. Listed below are some basic examples of structures and the pattern of organizational behavior they can produce.

• Safety processes that exist solely within the Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) department will lead those outside of HSE to believe and act as though safety activities are not their responsibility.
• Procedures that aren’t easily accessible or are overly complicated and non-user friendly will likely not be reviewed frequently by workers.
• Organizations that don’t require frequent and proactive leadership engagement in the workplace will likely suffer from communication and trust issues between employees and management.

As a way to support change for the system implementation, leaders should establish a shared vision and ensure key structures are in place to support and facilitate this vision. Leaders need to facilitate the creation of a shared vision to reflect what people want from the change. Notice the key word is “shared”. In other words, this vision isn’t just established by the C-suite level or executives, but should be developed by a cross section of the organization. If developed properly, this vision will become a guiding force that aligns actions and supports the organization’s implementation.

It’s not enough for leaders to review key organizational structures or create support for the shared vision as this change MUST be designed into organizational systems and processes. As a result, this change can become a part of what the organizational system does –– not an add-on. For example, organizations should identify their high-risk tasks, error-likely parts of tasks, and tasks with a loss history and design the safety and loss prevention tools into these tasks to proactively manage and prevent loss events from occurring. If this organizational change is properly designed into organizational systems and processes, it will become how the organization functions and enable effective and successful task performance.

Leaders must also be deliberate and design this change into their own leadership behaviors to demonstrate the change they wish to see, even if means stepping out of their comfort zones. What leaders pay attention to, control, and measure communicates what they care about. What this means is that leaders must engage the organization and be willing to show up in public settings at all levels to (a) gauge openness to change; (b) provide compelling reasons for change; (c) illustrate limitations of current efforts and how change is an enhancement; (d) challenge excuses and pushback; (e) address organizational anxiety; and (f) show visible support and discuss impact of change at all levels.

In summary, the last three articles, which are a three-part series on the critical factors leaders should address to properly prepare themselves and their organizations for a safety and loss prevention implementation, have addressed the importance of (1) developing an effective case for action; (2) recognizing how the system implementation is connected to other organizational systems and processes; (3) being aware of and reflecting on their own beliefs and assumptions regarding previous implementations that may impact their openness and willingness to change; (4) accepting responsibility for new ways of thinking; (5) challenging beliefs of others in the organization that, if left unchallenged, can significantly hinder the success of the implementation; (6) establishing a shared vision for change and putting structures in place to facilitate organizational vision; and (7) designing the change into larger organizational systems, so the change becomes a part of what the organizational systems do and don’t become an add-on. If organizations and leaders follow these guidelines, they’ll set the stage for an effective safety and loss prevention implementation with genuine organizational buy-in and a strong foundation for sustainability.



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