how important is the role of …

As also mentioned in the documents of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), it is necessary to work together to prevent risk. Security must be one joint project and performed by all the actors of the company, starting from the top of the company, the management and the employer.

The problem is that in some cases, not in all cases, it happens, and on the basis of more or less serious injuries, there are also problems associated with management deficiencies, excessive attention to productivity and lack of effective organizational measures.

Talking about it is Eng. Riccardo Borghetto, HSE Consultant and Expert in Behavioral Safety (BBS), in the contribution “To change the safety culture, management must do its part“.

To change the safety culture, management must do its part

It is not possible to change the safety culture of all employees by sending them to a course that talks about the safety culture or by resorting to an improvised initiative.

There safety culture in the end, it’s what the workers and bosses do or how they behave. It is the sum of their individual motor (muscle actions) and verbal (what they say) behaviors. So changing the culture, changing the mindset, changing the way you work has to do with human behaviour.

We know from the science of human behavior, behavioral science, that human behavior changes with immediate consequences and therefore has a lot to do with human relationships, their number, their quality, and the organization of work.

I make one concrete example to make me understand better.

A large company on which we implement a behavioral security (B-BS) protocol has all the documents in place, has all the management system and model 231 certifications. In short, at first glance, it works fine. And all subsequent revisions have confirmed this view.

I take a walk and on many occasions I see that I forklift drivers they run a lot, too much.

It does not take long to figure out why. If there is a high-frequency behavior such as “running fast”, it means that that behavior is amplified immediately and safely. And when talking to forklift drivers, the matter is obvious. There are many pallets to move in relation to the number of forklift drivers driving.

If the “rules” that have been taught in the courses (and which are well known by all) are adhered to, in such a situation delays will accumulate, triggering threats from those responsible.

We run fast to avoid hassle with the clothes. It’s about negative reinforcement (R-), which is a behavioral consequence where the behavior is increased to avoid a harmless consequence.

To reduce speed, it is useless to write new procedures, explain them to forklift drivers, send them to other training sessions. It is not helpful to organize a management or safety theater session or to call a disabled person from work on Safety Day to raise awareness of the issue: If the number of forklift drivers remains limited in relation to the work to be performed, they will continue to run to ensure the productivity they demand and avoid inconsistencies.

The most effective measure in this case is organizational: hire a few more forklift drivers and distribute the workload so that by driving at a safe speed it is possible to guarantee the productivity that the company demands.

A few years ago I followed a big one carpentry which had a fatal injury. A worker intervened to repair a robot that was jammed. He introduced a bypass key to enter the access door, unlocked the robot, which then moved and killed him. It is a very common standard dynamic.

But let’s stick to the safety culture aspect. Why did a worker act that way?

He did not agree to stop production to repair the robot. He would do it on the run. For what reason? Well, the causes are virtually identical to the previous case. The management was very strongly focused on productivity. By working for major international brands selling cheap products, it was important to produce tens of thousands of pieces a day, and this message was conveyed in every way by all operators. Stopping a worker’s production was probably considered a thing that should never be done as a taboo at any cost.

It’s hard to find anything written about this point. Behavior is controlled with consequences. In this case negative reinforcement (R-) e punish (P +).

So much so that the worker had one at his disposal bypass key. Agree that you can buy it online for less than one euro, but why should you have bought it? It was probably common practice to use these keys at certain times.

Again, if you want to change workers’ behavior and safety culture, you have to work very hard upper part of the companyand about the process. It must be ensured that it is not necessary to stop it. And if it is seldom necessary to stop it, a very clear message must be sent from above that a line can be stopped for the time necessary to solve the problem, which is not a problem at all, on the contrary. The important thing is that no worker puts himself in danger. Instead, it should be very clear that the company does not tolerate machine bypasses, monitors this point appropriately and sanctions violations in an exemplary manner.

Bypassing hardware protection is one of those causes of serious injury typical. It is well described in the video of Suva “a black Friday”, and it is also the cause of Luana’s death, broken in the chain modified to make it work without protection and many other events.

It is one of the critical safety points where top management is encouraged to intervene operationally with clear indications for the entire hierarchical line. Sometimes it can happen that the top management does not accept the temporary or permanent manipulation of the machines, but that a middle-level manager, assessed for his productivity, does not understand the message and gives opposite directives and creates the problem.

Why is hierarchical supervisionthat is, by the employer of the managers (if present), and by those of the supervisors, in addition to the supervision of the supervisors of the workers, as defined in the new Article 19.

It is my experience that companies have not yet set one up effective hierarchical supervisory system: they focused only on the supervision of those responsible, who are only one link in the chain.

The ban on bypassing the machines is inserted inside Life-saving rules (the most important life-saving rules). Supervision of safety devices is an obligation which, if not complied with, may lead to the entrepreneurship activity being discontinued according to Art. 14 and Annex 1, point 12, of Legislative Decree 81/08 recently amended.

Ing. Riccardo Borghetto

HSE and BBS consultant for large organizations

Leave a Comment