Safety Directors from Local Area Businesses provide insight at Safety Summit

By Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, South Plains Chapter Past President

Texas Mutual’s Safety Summit Panelists (L to R) Pat Niekamp (moderator), Scott Ramsey, Bill Brown and Javier Rodriguez.

On April 30 the South Plains Chapter ASSP participated in the Texas Mutual’s, WorkSafe Texas Summit in Lubbock. One of the highlights of the event was the Panel Discussion with:

Pat Niekamp, Founder of the Texas CEO Magazine was the moderator for the panel.

The panel provided their insight on how they promote a positive safety culture. Safety cultures are the values, norms and everyday behaviors of an organization that can either promote or discourage safety.

All of the panelists agreed that top management must be involved in the safety program to have a positive safety culture.

Javier emphasized that his manager is an active participant in promoting safety, however every manager may not be.  To reinforce positive safety behaviors he emphasized that, “people don’t always do what you EXPECT; they will do what you INSPECT.”

He went on to explain that if you are asking someone to perform a certain task, such as a Job Safety Analysis (JSA), then it’s important to verify that they have completed that task. If you don’t follow-up, that shows that you don’t care or it was not important. However, if you follow-up and  then provide feedback and/or praise for that individual, this will help reinforce positive safety behaviors.

Distracted driving was a important topic of discussion. Scott stated that he has been successful in decreasing the cost of auto insurance by implemented safety policies on cell phone use and a unique policy for employees driving company vehicles for work. In December 2018 his company implemented a policy that made drivers personally responsible for paying the deductible in the event of an vehicle accident they had caused. He provided an example of an employee driving a company vehicle with a ladder rack that had damaged the rack when he attempted to go through a drive-thru.

Bill emphasized the importance of new employee safety orientations. A critical part of the orientation process for his company is that he assigns a mentor to that new employee so that he or she will understand their job and how to safely perform each task. To select the best mentor, their organization does Behavior Based Safety (BBS) observations.  Each employee will perform observations two times per week.  He reviews all of the observations and looks for trends. Then from the observations, he knows who is receiving excellent reviews for consideration as being a mentor for a new employee.

Javier also agrees that “you have to catch them early” in regards to new employee safety orientation. He says that the new employee may be shaky at first, but if you make safety personal to them, they will remember it. His organization has a day and a half of orientation where he tries to encourage his new hires to share their personal experiences in safety. He recommends trying to relate to them and to get them on your team. Following the orientation he likes to leave the new employee with a word of advice and encouragement. He explains that their company has had an excellent safety record with no accidents for many years, and now “it’s on their shoulders.” The employee now has the responsibility to maintain safety.

In finishing the panel discussion, Pat asked each of the panelists what was their “Best Safety Tip.”

  • Bill’s best safety tip was on maintaining situational awareness and keeping your eyes open. Continue to look at what’s around you to maintain safety.
  • Scott’s best safety tip was to remember that “Safety is everyone’s job.” If everyone buys’ in then it will go a long way in building a strong safety culture for your organization.
  • Javier’s best safety tip was to remind employees the reason why they are doing safety – for their families.  Put their children in their mind.  “If your 10 year old daughter was there, you’d make sure it was safe.” Javier said, “they will get it, if they have to think of their children.”

A big thanks to all of the panelists that provided their insight and ideas on important safety matters that make a difference in a positive safety culture.

Texas Mutual will be having similar presentations throughout the state, check out their website for upcoming safety summits.