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SLC 2020 Q&A: Envisioning Safety Through Field Workers’ Eyes

Oct. 26, 2020
Why executives need to view safety challenges, and opportunities, from the perspective of frontline employees.
Creating a culture of safety requires a dual approach: prioritization from management and buy-in from frontline employees.

Steve Lutes, MA, director of safety for Huwa Enterprises, says organizations can leverage mobile technology to engage the workforce and encourage them to take ownership of jobsite safety.

During his session at the 2020 Safety Leadership Conference, which takes place Nov. 10-12 virtually, Lutes will share how Huwa Enterprise recorded more than 1,500 near miss/safety observations in 2019 and maintained low TRIR (.43) and EMR rates (.50) through the use of mobile app technology. He will also discuss how and why the company focused on leading indicators, including safety observation reporting, rather than incident scores.

Lutes previews his session, “One Vision: Safety Vision Through the Eyes of Field Workers” in a Q&A with EHS Today.

EHS Today: Can you offer us a short description of your presentation and describe how it relates to safety leadership?

Lutes: We know that leading indicators of safety performance have been a focus [for] OSHA. We know that bottom-up safety management is a great way to create a strong culture of safety, collaboration and respect. This improves engagement, strengthens compliance and utilizes the knowledge and expertise at all levels, resulting in improved safety ratings and lower TRIR and EMR.

Now, more than ever, mobile technology has given more people the tools at their hands to stay engaged and be part of a safety management program. Safety leaders must engage with these tools and help implement full participation from all levels of the organization, resulting in best in industry metrics. I will share with you how this can be done.

Why is the topic of your presentation of interest to you and why is it important to SLC attendees?

Use of current and available mobile safety observation reporting technology involves all levels of the organization and provides new and useful tools that incorporate quality, productivity and safety. Creating strong shared safety beliefs and attitudes leads to safe work behaviors through the eyes of field employees [that also] leads to onsite safety ownership. Our safety managers...help train the field teams to use mobile technology and take ownership of their job sites [by] recognizing hazards and resolving unsafe acts and conditions.

What are the takeaways you hope to leave with attendees?

Through this presentation, leaders and learners will use technology to:

  1. Lead by example
  2. Take ownership for safety
  3. Allow employees to become comfortable bringing issues and unsafe conditions to managers
  4. Safety reporting is proactive
  5. Safety technology is timely with feedback
  6. Develop a system for open communication
  7. Recognize safe behavior
  8. [Help] employees feel valued
  9. Success is celebrated
  10. Reduce injuries and accident rates.

Please share an example of a personal or professional experience you’ve had related to safety leadership or the topic of your presentation.

Our One Vision Safety Observation Program has improved our workplace safety performance by allowing field teams to take ownership of correcting unsafe conditions and acts. We are on pace to receive over 3,000 field mobile observations, to which more than 85% are from non-safety personnel. Our safety team leaders are training [through] the use of mobile technology as a job and project responsibility to “See it, Own it, and Solve it.”

What do you think are some of the most pressing EHS and risk management issues facing corporate leaders and safety professionals in 2020 and beyond?

The most pressing issues for corporate leadership and safety professionals are maintaining high levels of engagement with in-line, field employees and staying informed with issues in real time. [They also need to understand the] field staff and front line point of view and perspective of safety conditions, policy and procedural applicability.

Please provide any additional insight or comments about your topic of discussion.

Both leadership and technology are discussed every day as a key ingredient to project and organizational success. Building a program where that responsibility is distributed across all levels of the organization is a strategy that results in a collective success for quality, productivity and safety.

Editor’s Note: For more information on the 2020 Safety Leadership Conference, including registration, click here.

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