GM Throws Out the Safety Metrics
An interesting article below by EHS Today on some big statements made by GM’s Senior Manager for Health and Safety that they are to begin “throwing out the safety metrics”. You will see that their focus is still on counting, measuring and controlling hazards – only lots more data ie some 4000 near misses which they call ‘sentinel events’ – a sentinel event means one that is unanticipated. Their desire to “want to know everything” is a bit of a worry and just another example of power and control discourse from the top. But this a start and a great realisation and admission by a Multinational – how long before others start to get it?
Do you think this really is a “Paradigm Shift” or just more corporate spin? How long before we see “ZERO SENTINELS” embroidered on every worker’s shirt?
Here is an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review about the weak culture at GM – their new tactic seems similar to what Ford tried to do in regards to speaking up? https://hbr.org/2014/03/fixing-a-weak-safety-culture-at-general-motors. The article says:
Clearly, GM’s safety culture is, and has been for quite some time, badly broken. A strong safety culture stems from psychological safety — the ability, at all levels, to speak up with any and all concerns, mistakes, failures, and questions related to even the most tentative issues. Simply appointing a safety chief will not create this culture unless he and the CEO model a certain kind of leadership.
When institutionalized tools become enshrined in organizational culture, they are like concrete shoes, they seem to fit but the weight of the problem over time seems only good for getting us quicker to the bottom. What tools am I thinking of? Well, many of the tools we have accepted to measure safety or performance. For example, Bird’s or Heinrich’s Pyramid, Lost Time Injury data or Frequency of Injury data. …… Enjoy the rest of the article >>>>>
It has become fashionable for organisations to use positive or leading indicators as a way to ‘measure’ their risk and safety ‘performance’. Leaders in some organisations have proudly told me how they are ‘progressive’, ‘generative’ and ‘world class’ because they focus …… Enjoy the rest of the article >>>>>
General Motors Ends the Metrics Game, Extract (see the whole article, first published here)
EHS Today reports that:
In his presentation at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference last week, GM’s Senior Manager for health and Safety, Mike Douglas, explained that GM’s road to safety begins by throwing out the metrics.
"When you have folks trying to get their numbers down, it quells reporting," he said. "People play with the numbers to get them into range."
That, he said, defeats the whole point of safety. It’s not about meeting some corporate goals; it’s about getting your people home safe. Requiring a certain drop in metrics does nothing to alter the real state of safety.
So GM changed their reporting objectives.
"We got away from this idea of tracking numbers," Douglas explained. "We don’t care about that. We want to know everything."
So, rather than the usual metrics, the company has turned to sentinel events – any and every situation anywhere across its production or supply chains that could have killed someone, caused a life-altering injury, or resulted in hospitalization. Even if no one was ever harmed.
As Douglas explains, it’s a system of measuring "how many folks by sheer luck or variables out of their control escaped an event that could have resulted in a fatality."
Basically, he said, this means tapping into the water cooler talk about what really happens day to day in the plants — about all of the close calls and could-ofs that workers deal with in their jobs. Falling chains, rusted fixtures, that time someone on the line almost got nailed.
"In your place of work, there are [potentially dangerous] things happening every day," he says. "We had to learn to listen to what is really going on."
The results of this shift are rather remarkable.
It’s not a corporate game. It’s not meeting quotas and fudging numbers. It’s real improvements to real hazards, eliminating risk before an event ever occurs.