“How Six Sigma Can Improve Your Safety Performance”

Six Sigma is the evolution of statistical quality improvement processes that have been used extensively to improve manufacturing and other process-related industries. How good is Six Sigma? It is a statistical measure of variability or standard deviation. The Six Sigma process calculates to 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Needless to say, that is near perfect execution of a process. Although not often used in the safety arena to full potential, Six Sigma tools can help produce significant and sustainable improvements in safety performance, injury reduction and associated pain.

Total Quality Management
To gain an understanding of Six Sigma, it is helpful to have some historical knowledge of the original statistical improvement tools or the Total Quality Management (TQM) concept. Original quality pioneers such as Walter A. Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and Kaoru Ishikawa worked with Japanese manufacturing companies in the 1950s to significantly improve the quality of products. The original concept, TQM, has been defined as a management philosophy that produces continuous improvement of products and processes.

One of the most powerful tools that came out of TQM is the Plan/Do/Check/Act (PDCA) continuous improvement wheel. In this concept, plan to do something, do it, check for the effectiveness and, if it’s not performing as planned, act upon that by making changes. Then, on an ongoing basis, “turn the wheel” or plan, do, check and act again. This produces continuous improvement. The concept of PDCA is still just as powerful today as it was when first proposed.

A safety application of PDCA at both a strategic and an operational level is shown in the following diagram.

Six Sigma – Quality on Steroids
Although TQM provided significant quality improvement for users, there were still opportunities to improve the concept. That is why Six Sigma came to be. The Six Sigma management concept was originally developed by Motorola USA in 1986. In 1995, Six Sigma became more visible when Jack Welch made it a focus of business strategy at General Electric. Today, the Six Sigma concept has become the standard process for quality improvement in many industries. The objective of Six Sigma is to improve the quality of processes by identifying and removing the causes of defects. In safety, these process defects can be unsafe behaviors, incorrect procedures or equipment failures, all of which can result in injury.

A Formal Improvement Process
The original TQM used a number of statistical tools, but there was no formal process for integrating all of these tools and developing a complete process improvement solution. Six Sigma uses DMAIC, a clearly defined five-step improvement process that consists of the following:

Define
• Identify the process and define the scope of the project.
• Clearly identify the inputs and outputs of the process.
Measure
• Evaluate the measurement systems and resulting data.
Analyze
• Determine cause-and-effect relationships.
• Identify the root cause of the defects.
Improve
• Develop and implement improvements.
• Test effectiveness of improvements.
Control
• Implement a system to sustain the improvements.

Define Stage – What Are We Working On?
In the Define Stage, clearly identify the scope of the project or what it is that needs work. Also determine what the target performance should be. It will be necessary to understand what process is failing and resulting in what kinds of injuries.

One of the Six Sigma tools that is typically used in the Define Stage of the DMAIC method is the SIPOC. This tool is typically used in the manufacturing process where it is important to identify the suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers. The diagram below shows the use of this tool in a very simplified version of the line construction work process.

By applying this tool to safety, one can see how some of the suppliers and inputs – which are normally not considered to have an impact on safety – can indeed have impact. For example, the SIPOC tool helps demonstrate that the people who design the project, design the standards or determine the specifications of the materials should consider safety implications when doing design work.

Measure Stage – Is the Data Correct and What is it Telling You?
In this stage, the data being used is extensively assessed and interpreted. First, ensure that the data is valid and accurately measuring the desired subject. This can often be an issue when analyzing behavior observations. Behaviors such as use of safety glasses are easy to document and address. More controversial items, such as adequate cover-up, are not always documented and addressed. As a result, when combining all of the observation data, since some of it is not valid, the overall observation results may not reflect actual performance.

Often in this phase, charts and graphs will provide directional information stating that performance has improved or degraded, but this may be misleading. Many charts and graphs reflect averages, and important information can be lost in averages. There are a number of tools used in this stage to identify whether it is truly statistically improving or if it just looks better on a chart. Tools that are used in the Measure Stage include histograms, Paretos and process capability.

Analyze Stage – Identifying the Root Cause
In the Analyze Stage, use the data collected and validated in the Measure Stage to determine the root causes of the process defects or injuries. A few of the tools that are used in the Analyze Stage include Cause & Effect Fishbone Diagram, Five Whys and Correlation Testing. The fishbone diagram is familiar to most people because of its extensive use in identifying the root cause of accidents. The importance of this stage cannot be understated because if the root cause is not validated, the corrective measures – tied to that root cause – will not provide the desired results.

Improve Stage – The Corrective Measures
After completing the Analyze Stage, potential corrective measures often become evident. During the Improve Stage, it is most important to test the potential corrective measures to see if they will address the root cause. In the safety arena, that does not mean to wait and see if another injury occurs. The root cause needs to be prevented, not the injury. In the case of eye injuries, the identified root cause may be the employees not wearing safety glasses or employees wearing improperly fitting safety glasses. In this case, the Improve Stage would include a process for fitting glasses and providing them to employees. In this stage, pilot trials or other forms of testing effectiveness can be used.

Control Stage – Make it Sustainable
The primary objective of the Control Stage is to monitor results and ensure that the expected improvements are being achieved and sustained. One of the biggest challenges, especially when implementing safety improvements, is ensuring that those improvements will be sustained. Far too often, events or injuries occur and upon analysis, corrective measures were recommended and implemented several years ago for a previous event, but are not working or are not in place for various reasons.

One reason for this could be that a good process was not in place to sustain corrective measures. Actual examples include:
• A safety improvement memo was sent out, but there was no follow-up to ensure that people implemented it.
• A new, safer tool was specified and purchased, but the older, unsafe tool is still found throughout the system. In the case of safety glasses, the employees are no longer using the ones they were fitted with.

Another reason may be that the original corrective measure did not correct the original root cause. This should have been identified when testing the effectiveness of the corrective measure in the Improve Stage.

Of all of the stages in the DMAIC process, I feel the Control Stage is the most important and most overlooked.

Conclusion
This represents only a small example of the tools and methods that are typically used in the DMAIC process. There is no question that use of Six Sigma and the DMAIC process requires trained facilitators to assist in providing desired results. The results, though, can be substantial if the process is properly followed. If an organization has access to someone with these skills, they can be very helpful in identifying the root causes of injuries and developing sustainable corrective measures. Appropriately utilized, Six Sigma can be an important component in creating an injury-free workplace.

About the Author: Ted Granger, CSSBB, CUSP, is an independent safety consultant affiliated with the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. He provides training, lectures and safety consulting services. Prior to his current role, Granger served in various managerial positions during his 37-year career at Florida Power & Light Company. These included T&D operations, human resources, logistics and safety, where he utilized his Six Sigma Black Belt certification. He can be contacted at tedjgranger.

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“Donnie’s Accident” – “I Was Too Good To Need My Safety Gear”

Donnie's Accident

On August 12, 2004, I was connecting large electrical generator in preparation for Hurricane Charlie. The meter I was using failed and blew carbon into the gear and created an electrical arc which resulted in an arc blast. The electrical equipment shown in the video is the actual equipment after the explosion when my co-workers were there trying to restore power and make temporary repairs. I ended up with full thickness, 3rd degree burns to both hands and arms along with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to my neck and face. I was in a coma for two months due to numerous complications from infections and medications.

During this time my family endured 4 hurricanes and the possibility of losing me. I am a husband, a father, a son and a brother, not just an electrician. It took almost two years of healing, surgeries and rehabilitation to only be able to return to work to an office job. I can’t use my hands and arms as well as I once could… BUT I’M ALIVE! There are those who have had similar accidents and fared much, much worse. I use my experiences to caution others.

All of this could have been avoided if I had been wearing my personal protection equipment (PPE), which I was fully trained to do and was in my work van. I would have probably only gone to the hospital for a checkup! I am asking you to protect yourself by following your safety procedures. Accidents at work not only affect you; think about the effects on your family, your friends, your finances, your company, your co-workers… your entire world.

Most of these injuries can be prevented by following the safety rules your company probably have in place. Most of these rules were put in place because of accidents like mine. Be safe, wear your PPE; not for fear of fines, penalties or getting fired. Be safe for yourself and for all the people close to you. I got a second chance… You might not!!! !!!

You can read a more in depth account of my accident on the “Full Story” page.

OSHA Arc Flash Safety Information
Understanding “Arc Flash” – Occupational Safety and Health …

https://www.osha.gov/…/arc_flash_han…

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Employees must follow the requirements of the Arc Flash Hazard label by wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), use of insulated tools and other safety related precautions. This includes not working on or near the circuit unless you are a “qualified” worker.

“PeopleWork: 3 Ways to Get Commitment to Safety” @KevinBurnsBGi

Published on Apr 3, 2017

http://www.kevburns.com/peoplework

One of the most pursued issues by safety people is getting employees to commit to the safety program. On this episode, 3 ways to get a better commitment to safety.

Employee commitment to safety is important. And as well-meaning as the efforts of your senior management may be to safety, without the employee commitment to safety, any safety initiative is going to fall flat. You need a commitment to safety from especially the front line employees.

Here’s why. The majority of safety incidents happen at the front line. The largest numbers of workers are at the front line. The most amount of activity is at the front line. And so it’s at the front line where the focus on safety needs to take place. It is at the front line where safety leadership is needed most.

There are three areas where you can work to build employee commitment to safety.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, safety speaker and author of “PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety.” He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work. Kevin helps organizations integrate caring for and valuing employees through their safety programs.

“OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Final Rule Requirement Implementation Dates “

On November 18, 2016, OSHA finally published a final rule updating the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Percolating since 1990 (55 FR 13360), reopened in 2003 (68 FR 23528) and again in 2010 (75 FR 28862), revisions to the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards were long overdue. OSHA’s 500+ final rule gives employers new options to combat slip, trip and fall hazards (Subpart D) while adding employer requirements to ensure those new options provide for enhanced safety.

It adds a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standard (Subpart I) that specifies employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems and clarifies obligations for several specific industries, including telecommunications, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, textiles and sawmills.

The final rule addresses fall protection options (including personal fall protection systems), codifies guidance on rope descent systems, revises requirements for fixed and portable ladders, prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and establishes training requirements on fall hazards and fall protection equipment. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels stated, “The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.” OSHA notes the final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which it believes will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

The rule is effective January 17, 2017, but some of the requirements are phased in over time. Phased-in or delayed compliance dates include:

• May 17, 2017

  • Training exposed workers on fall and equipment hazards

• November 20, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages

• November 19, 2018

  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structure
  • Equipping existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, with a cage, ell, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system

• November 18, 2036

  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet

OSHA estimates the rule will affect 112 million workers at nearly 7 million worksites and will prevent 29 fatalities and over 5800 injuries annually.

Many employers that have been operating under the cover of OSHA interpretive letters and statements in the preambles of the proposed rules because the standards in place were so outdated and/or ill-suited to particular work environments. For them, the final rule offers an opportunity to confirm that their policies are compliant. However, those employers should scrutinize the final rule to ensure the interpretations they were relying on were incorporated and that no additional actions are required.

Some have suggested that Congress may seek to overrule these changes using the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) (5 U.S.C. §§801-808), but that action is risky because the CRA is such a blunt instrument. The CRA can only be used to repeal a regulatory act in its entirety; it cannot be used to amend the regulation. Moreover, repudiation by Congress of a final rule prohibits the agency from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future.

Congress has only used the CRA once—to overrule the ergonomics regulation OSHA adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration. Congress should recognize that the provisions of this final rule are too important to too many employers for it to act reflexively by disapproving the entire rule and prohibiting further action on these issues.

A copy of the final rule is found here. More on the final rule, including OSHA’s Fact Sheet, can be found on OSHA’s website here.

“US House of Representatives Seeking to Make OSHA VPP Permanent”

Washington – Several members of the House have joined forces to reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would make permanent OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.

Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Gene Green (D-TX) and Martha Roby (R-AL) claim the Voluntary Protection Program Act is “sound policy that is not only good for the employers and employees but for the American economy overall,” Rokita said in a March 9 press release.

The proposed legislation would denote a long-term commitment to OSHA’s program, which recognizes worksites that achieve exemplary occupational safety and health performance. To be accepted into the program, worksites must implement safety and health management systems that yield below-average injury and illness rates. Successful worksites involved in VPP then gain exemption from certain OSHA inspections.

More than 2,200 worksites covering approximately 900,000 employees have participated in VPP since its 1982 inception. The VPP Act would codify the program, meaning Congress would be unable to withdraw its funding.

The legislation has remained before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee since it was read twice and referred to the committee in late April 2016.

“The Voluntary Protection Program is one of the few programs that has achieved unified support from both union and non-unionized labor, small and large businesses, and government,” Green said in the release. “I am proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to codify this important safety program that saves money while protecting workers.”

Added Roby: “The best way to ensure worker safety is through partnerships, not penalties. VPP helps companies become compliant with workplace safety rules on the front end to avoid costly fines and harmful penalties on the back end. It’s a smart way to ensure a safe and productive workplace, while also making government smaller and more efficient.”

The House considered similar legislation – also introduced by Rokita, Green, and Roby – in May 2015. It was referred to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee that November.

Given the current political climate,it would not be surprising to see this adopted at some point in the near future. Time will tell.

“Is Your Safety Incentive Program In Compliance With OSHA’s Interpretation?”

Video Courtesy of Comedy Central®

Safety incentive programs have long been used by organizations worldwide to promote safe working conditions and encourage safety at the workplace. But a recent memorandum by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), states that “Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because the employee reports an injury or illness. Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c).”

This has raised a big question in the minds of Safety Managers whether to continue, modify or abandon their Safety Incentive Programs. After this memo, OSHA will be closely monitoring the safety programs that reward the lowest number of accidents reported. In a 2013 news article a former TVA Engineering Safety Manager was sentenced to 78 months in prison for deliberately falsifying workplace injury records to collect safety bonuses of over $2.5 million from the (TVA) Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government corporation. There is a thin line between an effective incentive program and a misleading reward program which encourages workers to hide injuries.

Consider the following 10 tips to make your safety program OSHA compliant and more effective.

  1. First, a safety program should be behavior-based rather than being injury-rate-based. It means employers should provide incentives to workers practicing safe operating procedures and practices instead of incentivizing schemes based on a number of accidents.
  2. Reporting near miss, hazardous behavior should be focused which will prevent future occurrences of accidents. (Leading vs. Lagging Indicators)
  3. Praise and recognize employees through top management in a timely manner and in front of others to acknowledge their safe behavior and encourage others to follow suit.
  4. Avoid monetary reward for safety programs and use other awarding methods such as gift cards or certificates, days off, safety pins and recognition boards.
  5. Reward employees for a wide variety of safety activities such as providing safety suggestions, guiding a co-worker with a safe operating procedure or identifying hazards or participating in Safety committees.
  6. Involve employees in a dynamic safety program which encourages them to take part in periodic activities such as presenting tool box talks, teaching training classes and participating or performing safety audits.
  7. Include workers in safety committees and meetings, and encourage them to think of ways to prevent accidents and perform root cause analysis. Open communication between managers and workers will ensure a safety conscious work environment.
  8. Ensure management commitment by demonstrating that the organization’s leaders care about safety, by having leaders give presentations.
  9. Establish safety as a core value of the company. Believe that all injuries are preventable, and near misses should be reported.
  10. Allow employees to set safety goals for themselves. This will motivate them to ensure their own safety and work towards achieving them.

Adopting these suggestions will surely empower your safety program, minimizing incidents and at the same time prevent OSHA violations.

Just be sure to remain aware of the changing OSHA regulatory status under the new administration. Things may be changing rapidly soon.

“The 2017 Workplace Safety Puzzle” #OSHA #Safety

From 2015 to 2017, OSHA fines increased almost 80%, making the cost of noncompliance too expensive for most organizations to ignore.

This new infographic, created for the 2017 Safety Summit, aims to help safety pros, like you, strengthen compliance, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.

 

“Conducting An Effective Job Hazard Analysis” – Infographic” #JHA #Safety

JHA_InfographicJob hazard analysis is an essential component of a successful safety program. This BLR infographic details the 6 steps of a JHA so you can assess the hazards at your facility and implement corrective actions.

“JHA Downloads”

JHA Checklist: http://bit.ly/20crSNM

OSHA JHA Powerpoint: http://bit.ly/1K1ebiT

“Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety”

OSHA inspection-1

Every October the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff. One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations, and hospitalizations would drastically decline.

Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and our top 10 list features a lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures. Employers must take these issues seriously.

We also see far too many workers killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Lockout/tagout and machine guarding violations are often the culprits here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.

Respiratory protection is essential for preventing long-term and sometimes fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or a host of other toxic substances. But we can see from our list of violations that not nearly enough employers are providing this needed protection and training.

The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and a high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment. Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known. Our list of top violations is far from comprehensive.

OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. And we urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, we have released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces.

We have many additional resources, including a wealth of information on our website and our free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.

Source: OSHA -Thomas Galassi is the director of enforcement programs for OSHA.

“7 Common Workplace Safety Hazards” #WorkplaceSafety

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