Resources - Quality Systems
Deming on Safety
Deming's Deadly Diseases Applied to Safety
- The crippling disease: lack of constancy of purpose. Safety program of the month efforts do not produce long term improvement. Companies continually try to maintain interest in safety by implementing gimmicky program. Only a sustained effort reflected in a written mission (what we do) and vision (who we are) statement can produce long term success.
- Emphasis on short-term profits. This is a killer in most company. It impacts safety through the reluctance of management to invest in safe machinery, safety training, and personal protective equipment. Management does not consider the long term impact safety and health, which may be as high as 30% - 50% of the total cost of manufacturing.
- Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review. As stated earlier, annual reviews do not fulfill the purpose for which they are used. They function to demotivate, devalue, and distance the employee from management.
- Mobility of management. This deadly sin affects a company’s safety effort by increasing the difficulty in maintaining constancy of purpose. Supervisors, safety directors come and go. Each establish safety subcultures within their area of responsibility. With every move, cultures change, people must transition, variation increases, and the vision is lost.
- Running a company on visible figures alone (counting the money). These companies reduce their safety effort once accident rates reach an acceptable level. Consequently, accident rates rise and the process to reduce accidents repeats. Long term savings from safety are not reflected in short-term figures. The unknown and unknowable impact of each and every accident is not factored into the success equation of companies who rely only on visible figures.
Deming's Obstacles to Quality Improvement Applied to Safety
- Hope for instant pudding. Safety programs focus on the “surface cause” of accidents. Consequently, quick fix tactics (fix the condition) are primarily used in response to accidents. Little thought or action is given to the underlying contributing factors that allowed the unsafe conditions to exist. The result: repeated accidents (defects).
- The supposition that solving problems, automation, gadgets, and new machinery will transform industry. Most accidents are the result of unsafe work practices, not unsafe material or equipment. Workers may not value safety; they may be under stress to produce; or they may be ignorant of safe procedures. In any case, only by addressing these human factors can a company transform its safety program.
- Thinking that our problems are different. Every company has virtually the same challenge in safety: the challenge is effective leadership and management, not the worker.
- Obsolescence in schools. A manager with an MBA from Harvard is probably more ignorant about safety than the average employee on a safety committee. Enough said.
- Poor teaching of statistical methods in industry. Safety professionals deal with very few statistics; typically incident and accident rates. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Veltri and others are working hard to produce useful statistical tools to aid safety professionals in demonstrating the savings resulting from improving the ES&H factors in manufacturing.
- “Our quality control department takes care of all our problems of quality.” Our safety directory or the safety committee is responsible for safety. Safety is not my job, it’s the safety director’s job. These are common perceptions, not only by supervisors and managers, but by all employees in many companies.
- “Our troubles lie entirely in the work force.” Blaming accidents on employees is very common and is totally destructive of all safety programs where it exists. Managers must take responsibility and accountability for the safety and health of their workers, and understand that they must first look at the quality of their own performance in safety supervision, training, and enforcement before placing blame on their employees.
- False starts. Some companies will begin safety efforts without thoroughly thinking through the process or ensuring that players have proper education, training, and funds. They will not understand the purpose of the safety program
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