Gather the data to look at the true value of a safety system

“Safety system” is an apt description for a never-ending operational process.

11/04/2011


In the past 3 years, I have noticed a substantial increase (more than 700%) in the number of calls and e-mails I have received from colleagues and friends who are involved in various manufacturing operations.

The reason for the increase appeared simple: a request for help related to safety issues or compliance with OSHA regulations in their segments. I continue to experience resistance when explaining the basic fundamentals of safety to operation managers, most of whom appear to be committed only to throughput.

It is easily discernable that the majority of those who exhibit this lack of knowledge do not understand the long-term benefits of a serious and committed plant, equipment, and resource safety system. I deliberately do not use the words “safety program” here as the word “program” is best used to describe something that has a beginning and an end.

“Safety system” is an apt description for a never-ending operational process.

So why all the recent fuss? Well, in May of this year, OSHA announced a new initiative that will target the various metals industries, most of which are located in the Great Lakes Basin. This includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, and Ohio.

The astonishing thing about the calls and e-mails I have received is the mind-set of the friends and colleagues I have communicated with concerning compliance. Of the 317 emails and 281 phone calls I have received in the past three years, only six colleagues have expressed concern with upgrading their safety systems to improve operating safety standards, as opposed to the majority asking, “How can we become at least minimally compliant?”

In almost every case where safety systems have been correctly installed, an improvement in throughput has been realized. So why is there so much resistance to properly installing safety systems?

Because the overall perception from management and employees alike is that it’s a hassle and it means they must learn a new and/or improved method of producing goods.

The immediate reaction is, “Sheesh, well this will waste an incredible amount of time, resources, and finances.”

So let’s examine the true actual cost of not having a properly maintained safety system in place.
Consider whether any of the following are applicable and if any show an increase or decrease within your operations.

  • LTIs (lost time incidents)
  • RIs (recordable incidents)
  • Medical insurance claims
  • Workman's compensation claims
  • Increase in employee absenteeism.

If you are experiencing any one of the above listed items, I will wager you have issues with all of the other items. And if you want the full scope of the effect these have on your operations and bottom line, get together with your human resources, medical, engineering, and operations staff and start comparing notes and costs.

Once you start the process of actually mining the data, it is quite easy to demonstrate the true cost associated with not having a well-rounded safety system in place.

Once you have assimilated all of the costs and add these costs into the costing/profit margins of your operations, I can assure you that you will have the undivided attention of those who actually count the beans.

Contact Dyer at dyerjerry(at)gmail.com.



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