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What’s Your Plant’s Rank on the Safety Maturity Index?

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naperlou
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Higher rank means higher profits
naperlou   11/18/2013 10:19:10 AM
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Rob, I first ran into the "mautrity/capability model" concept in the software engineering field while working in the aerospace industry.  There were five levels.  I worked in organizations that were level 4 and 5.  That is why I did not run into many of the issues that seem to continue to plague software development today.  An organization that is at SMI level 4 is likely to be involving employees on a continuous basis and to be looking at ways to improve all the time.  This not only leads to higher profits over time, but to better employee morale and productivity.  Of course the main goal is to improve safety, which does the same thing.  I have actually seen companies put out of business because of accidents.  They could all be avoided.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Higher rank means higher profits
Rob Spiegel   11/18/2013 5:23:02 PM
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Good points, Naperlou. I agree that employees certainly notice (and appreciate) a company that puts an emphasis on safety.

William K.
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Re: Higher rank means higher profits
William K.   11/21/2013 7:39:32 PM
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Naperlou, it is not clear that all accidents can be avoided. I make that assertion based on the fact that "you can't fix stupid", and a belief that at some point we should refuse to try to accomodate the stupid. An example is a tragedy that happened in an auto plant a few years ago, where employees cut across a zone on a conveyer maked very clearly "danger-STAY OUT". As they moved through they broke some light beams which caused car bodies to move, resulting in their being crushed, which also damaged the car bodies and the conveyer. It was an area that couold not be safety guarded, and it was clearly marked as a danger zone. But none of that helped, stupid prevailed and people died. Stupid can't be fixed, it seems. Of course, there are places where guarding is helpful and does improve safety. But understanding what one is working with is a far better way to maintain safety. I have worked in electrical enclosures with 480 volt circuits just a few feet away and never been unsafe, since I understood exactly what the situation was. But those poor souls who have no understanding about which wires are which circuits should not ever even open such an enclosure. Some catagories of accidents are simple to avoid, and don't require such additions as are stuck on to protect those who have no discernment.

Nancy Golden
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Compliance and Culture
Nancy Golden   11/24/2013 7:33:21 PM
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I really liked these categories because they are truly interwoven:

"Rockwell safety team members noted that the three principal components of a safe workplace include culture (behavioral), compliance (procedural), and capital (technical). They explained that the three components are 'equally critical and interdependent in developing a strong, sustainable safety program.'"

Often compliance is dependent on cultural factors and technical understanding also affects compliance. One time I designed a test set that had an air cylinder cause a test fixture to come down with some force over the DUT. In order to prevent the operator from hurting themselves - I used switches that required the operator to place both of their thumbs in the switches simultaneously (the program looked for two simultaneuos high outputs from these sensors before it would continue) in order for the air cylinder to be actuated (this way both hands would be out of the way). One of the engineers told me when he came back from visiting the plant - that the operators had stuck a glove in one of the switches, overriding my safety design. Compliance to safety procedure was not a cultural value in this case...

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Rob Spiegel   11/25/2013 10:25:59 AM
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I agree safety is cultural, Nancy. Workarounds will occur if safety is not part of the culture. When I was 17, I worked on a stamping machine that had the two buttons. We were taught to push one button with the forehead so we could use a hand to hold the work in place. I lost the end of my thumb to that fix.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Nancy Golden   11/25/2013 12:45:55 PM
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Oh my goodness, Rob - and at seventeen you just don't think to question it. I used to work for a semiconductor company and took a chip over to failure analysis to look at. You have to get to the actually wafer chip embedded in the plastic so you can look at it with a microscope and we used sulferic acid to do so. The FA guy had a fixture that you could put the chip in and place over the sulferic acid - you held it down from the top with your finger. I asked how you would know when you had the chip there long enough and his reply was, until it was so hot you couldn't stand it any more. I respectfully declined to use his aparatus...

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Rob Spiegel   11/25/2013 2:15:53 PM
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Yikes, Nancy. I knew the shop was pulling a fast one with the hand buttons. But I also wanted the wages. I should have reported them to OSHA. But at the time I had no idea who to report them to, and I also didn't want to lose the income.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Nancy Golden   11/25/2013 2:47:01 PM
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I think those types of accidents happened more frequently in the old days but with increased regulation we don't see it as much here in the U.S. - although it is still very prevalent in other countries and another concern with offshore manufacturing.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Rob Spiegel   11/26/2013 1:50:37 AM
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Yes, I sure it was more frequent in the past, Nancy. Now, workers would not keep their mouths shut. For one, they're likely to know who to contact, and for two, they would be far more likely to blow the whistle.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Compliance and Culture
Nancy Golden   11/26/2013 2:18:21 PM
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I am sure that is true, Rob. It is also the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe working environment and with not only increased regulations and OSHA checks but even ISO qulaity management has had an effect - quality usually goes hand in hand with a sense of responsibility that would naturally want to incorporate safety as part of a quality culture.

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