La Duke’s 14 Points for Safety

imageLa Duke’s 14 Points for Safety

Since my meeting with the great man W. Edward Deming just before he passed away and my experience and success with applying the principles of TQM to all aspects of running a business, it has always struck me as odd that Safety People don’t adopt the same philosophies??? Phil agrees and if you read his latest blog post and his 14 points below, adapted from Deming’s Principles, then I am sure you will also see the merit in such an approach.

Phil’s Blog Post:

Phil’s 14 Points:

With that in mind, with apologies to W. Edward Deming here are my fourteen points for safety:

  1. All injuries are preventable—FMEA’s and other predictive tools should be used to identify areas of greatest risk and efforts should be made to reduce the risk of injuries to the lowest practical level.
  2. Move beyond compliance—compliance with the government regulations is important and compliance tends to correlate to a process that is in control. But we can never mistake being compliant with being safe.
  3. Focus on prevention. Preventing injuries is more efficient than reacting to them. Injuries are caused by failures in the system.  By managing hazards (procedural, behavioral, and mechanical) organizations can reduce unplanned downtime, injuries, and defects.
  4. Instill universal ownership and accountability for safety.  Every job plays a role in ensuring workplace safety, and everyone must be answerable when processes and protocols fail to keep workers safe.
  5. Imbed Safety into all activities.  Safety is neither a priority nor a goal, instead it is a criterion by which companies measure the efficacy of its efforts to be successful. Safety is a strategic business element that needs to be managed as scrupulously as Quality, Delivery, Cost, and Morale.
  6. Shift the ownership of safety to Operations— Operations has the greatest control and oversight of the safety of the workplace. Operations leadership should conduct routine reviews of key safety metrics.
  7. The absence of injuries does not necessarily denote the presence of safety. Safety is an expression of probability.  No situation is ever 100% risk free.
  8. Avoid Shame and Blame Policies and Tactics. Workers do not want to get hurt and an organization’s processes are not deliberately designed to hurt workers; no amount of behavior modification will change this.
  9. Invest in basic skills training. The best way to ensure worker safety is by providing them with good foundational training in the tasks they are routinely expected to do.
  10. End safety gimmickry. Incentives should only be used to reward active participation in safety, not to reward an absence of reported injuries.
  11. Stop comparing your safety performance to industry average. Measuring an organization’s safety record in safety relative to the company’s industry average are meaningless and should be abandoned. Instead, use a combination of lagging and leading indicators to get a more meaningful view of your overall performance in safety.
  12. Seek to protect people from their mistakes. People make mistakes and not necessarily because they took foolish risks or ignored safety protocols. Look for ways to prevent people from being injured by mistakes rather than preventing the mistakes themselves.
  13. Support Operations.  Safety must be a key resource to Operations. Instead of impeding Operations and hampering its progress safety must support Operations to find safe ways of accomplishing organizational goals instead of work at cross purposes with production.
  14. Cease attempts to manipulate worker’s behaviors. Safety is not about managing people’s behavior; it’s about managing risk. Behavioral psychology is over used and frequently misused in commercial safety solutions.
Phil LaDuke

Phil LaDuke

Principle and Partner at ERM
Phil LaDuke
Phil La Duke is a principle and partner in Environmental Resources Management (ERM) a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, and social consulting services. With over 140 offices in 40 countries and nearly 6,000 top professionals, ERM can help you wherever you find yourself doing business. At ERM we are committed to providing a service that is consistent, professional, and of the highest quality to create value for our clients. Over the past five years we have worked for more than 50% of the Global Fortune 500 delivering innovative solutions for business and selected government clients helping them understand and manage the sustainability challenges that the world is increasingly facing. Phil works primarily in the Performance and Assurance practice at ERM; a speaker, author, consultant, trainer, provocateur…Phil La Duke wears many hats. As an expert in safety, training, organizational development, and culture change, Phil and ERM can help you motivate your workforce, conduct safety performance assessments, help you to build robust training infrastructures, craft interventions to improve how your work place values safety, provide insights to your executive staff, and craft and execute business solutions. If you’re interested in what Phil La Duke and ERM can do for you, or if you would like to inquire about employment opportunites at ERM, contact Phil at

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