Crane and Hoist Canada

Features Safety & Risk Management
Setting your direction for a new safety culture

December 23, 2015  By Kevin Cunningham

When a crane company tries to improve or re-engineer its safety management systems, it has to develop a planning process that will move the organization forward as it changes. This planning process needs to be activity driven … with daily, weekly, and monthly activities defined and consistently executed. Additionally, according to the Canadian Standards Association, effective safety management systems development should include “annual and multi-year planning to ensure an organization’s safety culture is consistently maintained and your overall safety management system is effective in identification and control of hazards and associated risks.”

When developing and planning your safety management system as the basis for safety culture improvement, the following are key things to consider before starting your crane safety culture journey:

• Define your overall vision/mission of what you want to accomplish.

• Put your reasoning in writing and share it with your top staff members. (This will become your safety policy statement).


• Determine your destination and what you want as your end result. (This will become your overall desired goals for your safety culture).

• Map out your intended path to reach your goal and what actions it will take to get to your destination.

Develop an activity-based safety system

In the ideal safety culture, the leadership team is consistently communicating and emphasizing the vision, goals, and objectives it believes are required for your organization to be successful.

Your safety process is best implemented using a systematic approach that focuses efforts on essential human factor activities to continually drive safety improvement. 

If implemented correctly, your activity-based safety system will not be the “program of the month…” but rather a continuous routine that is consistently followed by your workforce members.

Create continual awareness

One of the basic premises of activity-based safety (ABS) is to utilize group and individual communication to help create awareness in a short time. This awareness is created through specific activities that are consistently and routinely performed daily, weekly and monthly — with no exceptions.

The “ABS Model” provides a framework that can help to quickly involve all levels of your crane company by using the strengths of your internal network.

The objective of your ABS is to extend the influence of your safety process quickly throughout your entire organization to enhance safety awareness and in turn strengthen your safety culture foundation.

Evaluate existing safety activities

To get started, take a look at your existing safety management system-related activities and decide which activities add value to the process and which activities currently do not. Once all existing safety activities are mapped out, the decision can be made to remove, modify and/or replace the non-valued activities with new activities that will add value to your safety management system.

Measure human performance

Performance indicators (or metrics) are parameters measured to reflect the critical success factors of an organization. The purpose of these measures in the safety culture context is to provide your workforce with a way of knowing whether your planned activities are occurring as a result of your new safety culture improvement efforts … or as a warning of a developing problem.

Two types of performance indicators are typically used in safety-related measurement: “lagging” or “leading” indicators.

Lagging indicators measure results or outcomes that represent where you are … but do not necessarily predict future accomplishments.

Leading indicators, on the other hand, measure ongoing system conditions, which provide a relative forecast of future performance and measures of organizational health. These are designed to predict results and achievements.

Lagging indicators equal after the fact. Leading indicators equal concurrent measurement.

Finally, follow rules of engagement

To be in a position to achieve continuous improvement in your safety culture, it is suggested that you follow three rules of engagement:

1. Evaluate your current safety process for possible changes.

2. Develop an activity-based safety (ABS) program.

3. Use human-factor-based leading indicators in your communications.

With these three cornerstones for safety culture improvement, you can set the stage to focus on real-life proactive activities and measures that track what your people are actually doing to prevent accidents.

_ Kevin Cunningham

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