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SLC 2020 Q&A: Stop and Think Management Training

Nov. 6, 2020
Organizations strive to be safe workplaces, but what yardstick are they using to measure up and against what standard?

It’s easy to get focused on the race to win. But sometimes, organizations need to stop and see if the race is worth running in the first place.

Such was the case with Mohawk Industries, the largest flooring manufacturer in the world. By looking beyond standard metrics, the company was able to develop a program that has lowered incident rates, created a more engaged workforce and increased workplace safety overall.

Mohawk Industries’ Corporate Safety Manager Donald Standridge and Mitchell Chastain, director of safety, loss prevention, and security will share their lessons learned during their session at the 2020 Safety Leadership Conference, which takes place Nov. 10-12 virtually.

Standridge and Chastain preview their session, “Stop and Think Management Training,” 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?

Standridge and Chastain: We have taken a different approach to managing the safety of our workforce through a process we term the House of Safety. We foster a safety foundational three-phase process called Stop & THINK throughout the organization. This Stop & THINK foundation begins with a leadership training program that all levels of leadership complete. This training is an essential element to the development of our leaders and has spearheaded our success.

Leadership sets the example for the employee base in terms of production activities and the safe operation of that production activity. A leader’s ability to properly engage the workforce is an essential element to developing safe, creative and productive employees. Our leadership training program is designed to help instill, develop and foster positive leadership traits. Bob Wright, [President and CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works, once] stated that, “Leadership traits are within everyone — they just need to be nurtured.”

This course is specifically designed for all leaders, regardless of whether you are new to a leadership role or a tenured leader. Our leadership learns positive and proven methodologies in managing the workforce for safe, productive daily operations.

All of us strive for the distinction of being recognized as having a world class safety culture. The first question we must ask ourselves is: What is the measurement that tells me I have arrived at world class? A TCIR rate isn’t reflective of world class safety because, as we have all seen, it goes up and down without providing evidence of world class safety. A facility audit score or evaluation also isn’t necessarily indicative of world class safety because it only provides a single point of reference to meeting certain standards.

The true measurement of world class safety is found in employee ownership. It is when employees on the floor own safety that we see the true measurement of world class safety. Our House of Safety is designed around the four essential elements of safe effective leadership: safety foundation, policies and procedures, engagement and case management.

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

Seeing results and behaviors change. Getting managers and supervisors to let employees own safety. Developing good investigation skill and case management.

What are the takeaways you hope to leave with attendees?

Tools to take back and use in your workplace. Empowering managers and supervisors to take the lead and get employees involved and making safety their own. Key insights to case management and managing injuries and incidents.

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

We began this training in 2013 and brought in all the plant managers from our worst division. We put them through a week of training. In two years, that division had a 63% reduction in their incident rate and then the next year they had a 52% reduction on top of the previous year.

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?

Now we are faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting our employees. Training is also a concern. [We have to ask ourselves] how we can incorporate more technology and virtual tools into the mix.

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

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