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SLC 2019 Q&A: Zero Harm Culture: It's a Journey

Scott Kinderman will share the key principles of Zero Harm culture at the 2019 Safety Leadership Conference in Dallas.

An organization's transformation into a Zero Harm workplace can be filled with many obstacles.

Scott Kinderman, Senior EHS advisor, Siemens Corp., will explain the process, impacts, outcomes and behaviors that moved one Siemens U.S. manufacturing location "from worst to first" at the 2019 Safety Leadership Conference Nov. 5-7 in Dallas.

In a preview with EHS Today, he shares more about his session titled, "Zero Harm Culture: It's a Journey" which will be presented in the Safety & Risk Management Track 

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

Kinderman: “Zero Harm”; what does it mean? How does it work? Is it achievable?  This session tells the story of a Zero Harm Culture transformation swiftly moving a manufacturing location from worst to first. Establishing an ownership culture is critical, but cultural transformation will not happen without “tone from the top”. At the same time our leadership needs to have a true understanding of the value of safety. It’s therefore is essential that we engage the business and effectively “up-sell” safety so that the company culture is eager to integrate safety as part of its daily business.


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

Kinderman: As a safety professional, it is not every day we have the opportunity to not only drive a large country-wide project, but be able to observe a location’s transformation as a result of those efforts. The role of a safety professional is challenging, seeing a site that “gets it” from a safety perspective is something we all need to recognize and appreciate when we see it; it’s important to share those experiences with others.

What are the takeaways you hope to leave with attendees?

Kinderman: I believe the experience should provide several key takeaways:

The basics of the Zero Harm Culture Process; key principles, people/system aspects and milestone activities

A shared experience where everything is not perfect; to confirm that the challenges faced by the participants are not unusual.

Key learnings observed during the cultural transformation and some of the activities taken to move their safety culture forward.

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

Kinderman: Immediately after joining the Siemens Corporate Safety Team I was asked to drive the Zero Harm Culture Process for the US organization as program manager. The process had been attempted several years earlier with very limited success. I believe being new to the company provided a unique perspective and supported success. It did not seem to make sense at the time, but in retrospect was a great idea; it was also a significant test of my leadership capability.

What do you think are some of the most pressing EHS and risk management issues facing corporate leaders and safety professionals in 2019 and beyond?

I believe our ability to integrate EHS into our business is critical. Business competitiveness is as high as ever. Companies are streamlining and establishing efficiencies that can sometimes compromise the safety of our employees and others. I prime example is when bidding for projects – aggressive timelines and resource constraints to gain business can create a dangerous environment. Effective “up-sell” of safety is important and needs to be shared with our customers effectively so that quality services are delivered safely.

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

It is important to me that the participants enjoy our time spent together and leave with a sense of confirmation, new ideas and perspective. It is equally important for me to justly represent the hard work and transformation that is taking place at our Siemens, South Carolina location.

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