Resources - Quality Systems

Applying Deming’s 14 Points to safety

Point 1. Create constancy of purpose for the improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.

An employer is responsible to both its community and its own workforce to maintain a high level of excellence and value. The purpose of business is more than maximizing profits by minimizing costs. An employer must strive to maximize efficiency and effectiveness through constant improvement.

“There are two problems (i) problems of today; (ii) problems of tomorrow, for the company that hopes to stay in business. The next quarterly dividend is not as important as existence of the company 10, 20, or 30 years from now.” (Deming, p. 24)

Point 2. Adopt a new philosophy.

Everyone can find ways to promote quality and efficiency, to improve all aspects of the safety management system, and to promote excellence and personal accountability. Pride of workmanship must be emphasized from recruitment to retirement. By their behavior, leaders set the standard for all workers.

"We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for a change. We can no longer tolerate commonly accepted levels of mistakes, defects, material not suited for the job, people on the job that do not know what the job is and are afraid to ask, handling damage, antiquated methods of training on the job, inadequate and ineffective supervision, management not rooted in the company, job hopping in management..." (Deming, p. 26)

Point 3. Cease dependence on mass inspection to achieve quality.

Reliance on routine 100 percent inspection to improve safety may be ineffective at best. Most accidents are directly caused by behaviors not conditions in the workplace. Effective informal and formal observation programs may be far more effective in protecting employees and profits.

As Deming points out, "Inspection (as the sole means) to improve quality is too late!" Lasting quality comes not from inspection, but from improvements in the system. For example, documenting deficiencies in safety record-keeping does not, by itself, generate ideas that would make the task of record-keeping less error-prone. A quality-driven approach might, instead, encourage development of clear and simple record-keeping forms that minimize or eliminate the likelihood of mistakes. Some corporate safety systems depend solely on regular walk-around inspections by the safety director, supervisors and safety committees.

Point 4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag.

The more suppliers you have, the greater the number of variables. World-class safety management systems think of their suppliers as "partners" in their operation. Successful partnerships require clear and specific performance standards and feedback on whether those standards are being met. Developing a long-term customer-supplier relationship with a quality safety supplier is critical in reducing the variables associated with purchasing tools, equipment, machinery, supplies and materials. When the supplier is intimately aware of your needs, he or she can better supply those needs while maintaining high levels of quality.

“We can no longer leave quality, service, and price to the forces of competition for price alone -- not in today’s requirements for uniformity and reliability.” (Deming, p. 31) Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

Point 5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

Safety can be integrated into all operations, whether production or service. This requires close cooperation between internal customers and suppliers. Safety staff and committees need to be almost obsessed with continually fine-tuning the safety management system. There's always room improvement should be their mantra.

“A theme that appears over and over in this book is that quality must be built in at the design stage. It may be too late, once plans are on their way.” (Deming, p. 49) Improving quality and safety is not a one-time effort with a narrow focus on a limited number of corporate functions.

Point 6. Institute training and retraining on the job.

On-the-job training ensures that every worker has a thorough understanding of: 1) the needs of workers; 2) how to meet those needs; and 3) how to improve the safety management system's ability to meet those needs. Incorporating continuous safety improvement into the fabric of each job can speed learning.

“Training must be totally reconstructed. Management needs training to learn about the company, all the way from incoming material to customer. A central problem is an appreciation for variation.” (Deming, p. 52)

Point 7. Adopt and institute leadership.

The job of management is leadership. Effective safety leaders are thoroughly knowledgeable about their responsibilities to the employer and their obligations to each employee. They walk the talk. Leaders take every opportunity to create an environment for workers to suggest improvements and act quickly to make needed changes in the safe-production process.

“The job of management is not supervision, but leadership. Management must work on sources of improvement, the intent of quality of product and service...” (Deming, p. 54) The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines do a better job, and to increase pride of workmanship.

Point 8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

It's impossible to achieve world-class safety in an environment driven by fear. Deming states that an organization must actually start with this element if it is to be successful in achieving total quality. The Japanese have a saying: "Every defect is a treasure", meaning that all data is good data that can be used to help improve the safety management system. Errors or problems can help safety staff and committees identify more fundamental or systemic root causes and ways to improve the system.

“No one can put in his best performance unless he feels secure. A common denominator of fear in any form, anywhere, is loss from impaired performance and padded figures.” (Deming, p. 59)

Point 9. Break down barriers between staff areas.

If you keep people in the dark, they think the worst. Placing competitive or other barriers between organizations or between departments within one organization are obstacles to effective safety management. Friction or lack of cooperation result in unnecessary waste, more errors, greater delay, and duplication of effort. A lasting continuous safety improvement program requires teamwork that crosses traditional organizational lines. Cooperation, not competition, is key.

“People in research, design, purchase of materials, sales, and receipt of incoming materials must learn about the problems encountered with various materials and specifications in production and assembly.” (Deming, p. 62) They must work as a team to foresee problems of production, product or service.

Point 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity.

The problem with such exhortations is that they put the burden for safe behavior on worker performance instead of poor safety management design. Continuous improvement in safety requires that the organization focus on improving safe behaviors. Rather than setting a goal zero accidents, focus on achieving 100 percent compliance with safety policies and rules: employees have control over their behavior. Employees can work all year without violating safety rules and still get hurt. Employees can work all year, violating safety rules each day, and with luck, not get hurt. Don't recognize for zero accidents, recognize for sustained safe behaviors. In so doing, the frequency of safe behaviors will increase: productivity and efficiency will rise, and waste will diminish.

“You can beat horses; they run faster for a while. Goals are like hay somebody ties in front of the horse’s snout. The horse is smart enough to discover that no matter whether he canters or gallops, trots or walks or stands still, he can’t catch up with the hay. Might as well stand still. Why argue about it? It will not happen except by change of the system. That’s management’s job, not the people’s.” Deming, 1985

Point 11. Eliminate numerical quotas for workers and people in management. Substitute leadership.

For Deming, work production standards and rates, tied to incentive pay, are inappropriate because they burn out the workforce in the long run. Punishing or rewarding employees based on accident rates is inappropriate. Behavioral, not results measures are the only measure that proactively influences performance in the workplace. A team effort should be emphasized to increase safety and quality to most effectively achieve increased profits/savings that can then be translated to, for example, higher salaries or better benefits. Improvement efforts should emphasize improving processes because outcomes are dependent on inputs and processes within the safety management system. Focus on behaviors: the outcome, as the dependent variable, will take care of itself.

“A quota is a fortress against improvement of quality and productivity. I have yet to see a quota that includes any trace of a system by which to help anyone do a better job.” (Deming, p. 71)

Point 12. Remove barriers that rob people of their pride of workmanship.

The workforce is the most important component of the safety management system. Effective safety cannot exist without workers who are provided with the tools that help them feel proud of their work and respected as individuals and professionals. Managers can help workers be successful by making sure that job responsibilities and performance standards are clearly understood; building strong relationships between management and the workforce; and providing workers with the best tools, instruments, supplies, and information possible. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Remove barriers that rob people of their right to pride of workmanship. Abolish the annual merit rating.

Point 13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.

Workers can improve their knowledge, skills, and abilities through continual education and ever-broadening career and life opportunities. Safety staff and committees, as internal consultant groups tasked with problem solving to fix the system must be well-educated and skilled in their duties. Management, as well as members of the workforce, must continue to experience new learning and growth in all areas.

“What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education.” ( Deming, p. 86)

Point 14. Take action to accomplish the transformation.

The essence of continual safety improvement is a focus on meeting the safety needs of all employees. To best do this, it may take a total transformation, not mere revision of the safety culture. Effective safety management programs go beyond emphasizing one or two efforts or areas to improve performance. Every safety activity, program, plan, process and job in the company can be improved to better protect employees from injury and illness. Everyone within the organization can be given an opportunity to understand the improvement program and their individual role within that effort. Safety improvement teams that include broad representation throughout the organization can help ensure success of safety efforts and create opportunities for cross-functional dialogue and communication.

“Management in authority will struggle over every one of the above 13 points...” (Deming, p. 86) Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everyone’s job.

Source: OSHAcademy

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