Deming on Safety

deming safety

I had the pleasure of meeting this guy just before he died – LEGEND!

Deming on Safety: Adopt the New Philosophy

I’ve long been a big fan of Deming’s Philosophies and Phil La Duke has provided here an excellent article of how to apply to them to safety in the workplace. See the full article here:  http://philladuke.wordpress.com/

Excerpts:

Deming’s second point is “Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.” In writing this point Deming could well be describing safety.  For years Japanese companies have viewed the worker as a resource, as the best source of ideas for improvement, but also long-term partners in business; certainly a wise organization would do everything in its power to preserve and nurture something so vital to its success.

Adopting the new philosophy in safety manifests itself in several important ways.

  1. Injuries are waste and need to be managed as such.  Far too many safety pundits are still preaching that “safety is the right thing to do”, they continue to preach about moral imperatives for companies to protect worker at all costs…………… Read more
  2. Stop worrying about changing the culture and start worrying about changing your processes.  Too often safety professionals stick with what they know and don’t venture too far beyond it. Unfortunately, safety professionals typically don’t know all that much about organizational development, transformational change, or organizational psychology……Read more
  3. Integrate the Safety Into Other Business Functions. The days where Safety is a separate business function are rapidly coming to a close.  Maintaining a safety infrastructure with Safety professionals must end.  Just as the Quality function evolved into a vehicle for process improvement so too must safety.  As long as Safety professionals see themselves as discrete from the overall operations and somehow able to operate in isolation from production it will always be at risk of being dropped from the corporate team. Read more
  4. Leadership Must Advocate for Change. Leaders are often maligned by safety professionals. Too many times safety professionals blame their own failures on a lack of leadership commitment. In this case Safety professionals are right:  Leaders SHOULD be visible and outspoken advocates for safety and organizational change that supports it………Read more

If safety professionals are going to be trusted counsellors to the leaders there is much work they need to do:

  1. Quit pretending to know more than they do. Safety is an area of expertise that requires practitioners to have a deep understanding of a diverse range of disciplines, but there are limits to even the most learned safety professionals’ curricula verities………….
  2. Research and Analysis. Perhaps the most useful service a safety professional can offer is comprehensive research coupled with razor-sharp analysis on the best way to leverage the things uncovered by the research.
  3. Offer Guidance, Not Advice or Opinions. One of the most important thing that I recently learned is that offering guidance is tough. Frequently, what we see as guidance is opinion or just plain butting in……Read more
  1. Recognize the Realities and Challenges Endemic to the New Global Economy.  Deming developed his 14 points over 50 years ago, yet even then he was able to recognize that even then we were in a new economic reality.  Even as safety comes under increasing government scrutiny the scarcity of resources available for workplace safety continues to plague safety professionals……..Read more
  2. Improve the quality of safety training and ensure its efficacy. My background is in organizational development and training and I will say unequivocally that the most safety training is wholly inadequate for anything except for checking the compliance box.  Read more

Deming’s work remains the quintessential guide to quality, but the lessons one can glean and apply to safety are timeless and substantial. In studying Deming’s thoughts on quality we can transform safety and in so doing our industries.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below