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SafeStart Could Be the Change You’re Looking For

Time for change

If you want to see different results, you must first change what you’re currently doing.

A lot of companies get caught up in their mandatory training and program requirements, compliance standards and the long list of things that make up their safety program but they don’t always have the time to analyze the purpose of each gear in the machine. It’s easy to become hypnotized by the number of gears in place all functioning together and by watching the gears spin you fail to realize that even some of the most comprehensive safety programs don’t always hit their targeted safety goals.

Six years ago, ABB partnered with SafeStart because they wanted to take their safety program to the next level—that kind of change has to filter through the company culture.

Some of the things we learned about changing our culture is that in order to drive cultural change, what you do has to be different. It has to look different, it has to taste different, it has to feel different,” explained Ed Stephens, HSE Director for ABB North American region. “And when we started to really explore what SafeStart brought to the table, their program brings that different feel to the business. It doesn’t change anything you currently do with the safety world—you know your policies, your procedures, your work instructions, your training, your auditing, all that stays the same—but in order to drive a change, you have to change something.

The first thing to help ease a new process is to identify the safety champions within your facility. Their enthusiasm and faith in the safety program will help you communicate that the change is necessary. Since safety champions are usually among the employees as their peers, there is a degree of trust in what they’re saying. Making these champions trainers will only help positively spread the message and not only make that change at a cultural level but the improvements will also help with the overall morale.

Implementing a common language and using communication tools like posters, banners, toolbox talks to make the message as familiar as possible will help with the change. Ed explains in the video how SafeStart helps employees identify the causes of their incidents—a great realization they gained from this process, as employees are coming forward and working in teams to resolve these issues instead of waiting around for supervisors or managers. ABB is not only seeing improvements in their injury rates but improvements in quality, productivity and on-time delivery.

The last piece of sustaining this culture of change is making sure that employees feel like they’re more than just a number. Here’s one more excerpt from Ed Stephens’ video clip as he speaks about the ABB–SafeStart partnership:

What’s really powerful about SafeStart is now we’re are engaging the employees to take the SafeStart concepts home to their families, their friends, their community, their church and now we are learning that SafeStart can actually help us with sporting events, so we encourage our employees that have children that play sports to start practicing these concepts with them.

If you want to take a look at Ed’s interpretation of how SafeStart helped ABB through a safety-focused cultural change, check out this 15-minute video clip:

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