Kathleen Murphy, incoming president of AIHA, discusses the trends in industrial hygiene and offers advice on recruiting young people to the profession.
As Kathleen Murphy, CIH, steps into her new role as president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) this month, she will lean on a career that encompasses more than 25 years of experience within business, consulting and government. Currently serving as director, global regulatory affairs for paint and coatings manufacturer Sherwin Williams Co., she has also worked at global corporations such as PolyOne, Honeywell and ExxonMobil.
“I have been fortunate to have held a variety of jobs in industry, consulting and OSHA,” Murphy says. “My background helps me to understand the needs of many of our members who represent a very diverse set of expectations.” Her various roles within AIHA leadership in recent years have also helped her to understand how AIHA functions. “We are a complex organization with everything from IT and financial obligations to proficiency analytical testing (PAT), accreditation, standards engagement, registries, training/education and the Product Stewardship Society.”
EHS Today asked Murphy to talk about her background, leadership style and how she envisions the future of the field.
What got you interested in a career in industrial hygiene?
Murphy: Like many others, I found IH by accident when my sister suggested I apply for a job with OSHA. I worked hard to learn IH, became a CIH and have never looked back. It has truly been a rewarding career.
What are some of the top trends that will affect the industry over the next few years?
Murphy: Retirements will continue to impact our membership and our profession. Increased data creates challenges on how to use it; how to set occupational exposure limits (OELs); what privacy protections need to be put into place; and how to explain the results to workers and their organizations.
The move from manufacturing to service industry or contract work will continue to challenge how to characterize their exposures and capture the data for future use.
Do you feel that the current state of worker health is better than in the past?
Murphy: Yes and no. We have better methods of detection of illness and many new treatments for diseases than we did in the past, but we also face new hazards like exposure to opioids or cannabis for workers.
Also, ergonomic injuries and hearing loss continue to affect our aging workforce.
Have technology and the increased availability of data provided better health outcomes?
Murphy: Electronic health records may provide data that was difficult to mine in the past, but it also brings questions of privacy. The challenge with some of the new technology is that there are vast amounts of data instead of a few data points. We need to learn how to mine the data to identify health outcomes earlier than was previously possible.
How has the practice of IH changed?
Murphy: The “how” has changed or is changing but not the basic principles of anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control. There are new direct reading instruments, sampling pumps and noise monitoring equipment, and OEL setting is moving away from single chemical to banding or other risk determination measures. Industrial hygiene professionals remain passionate protectors of worker health while learning new ways to approach their jobs.
How would you characterize your leadership style?
Murphy: Inclusive. I try to gather ideas from everyone and then select from the best ideas. My current team knows that we will agree to a path forward, think about it for a few days, then tweak it to be even better.
AIHA has used our Open Call process to try to get more of our members involved and to provide greater transparency, which I think is really important. I am also very interested in career and succession planning and this applies to my job as well as my volunteer work.
What are some of the strategies the field is using to attract younger professional?
Murphy: We have developed materials to be used from elementary school through emeritus IH to show what is possible in the profession. Mentoring young professionals and providing them with career coaching and leadership training are also important ways to connect with them.
We need to emphasize some of the softer side of our profession, which is about protecting workers and improving health outcomes in addition to our normal message about STEM. Sharing our stories whenever we can, using a message targeted to the audience, will continue to be a winning strategy.
What advice would you offer to young practitioners?
Murphy: Work hard, get certified and don’t be afraid to try new things. The variety of jobs that I have held because I was willing to try something different has rewarded me with great jobs, meeting great people, visiting a wide variety of work locations in a lot of interesting places and, most importantly, remaining a lifetime learner. EHS
CH. Rama Krushna Chary works in the oil and gas industry.
CH. Rama Krushna Chary's commitment to advancing innovation in the safety and health profession has earned him the 2019 Edgar Monsanto Queeny Safety Professional of the Year accolade.
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) will present the award to Chary at the organization's Safety 2019 professional conference from June 9-12 in New Orleans.
“He has excellent technical skills involving environmental management systems, environmental assessment studies and management of air quality studies,” said ASSP Region 9 Vice President Ashok Garlapati, CSP, CFIOSH, QEP, in a statement. “He is a self-motivated and highly committed team player with strong conceptual skills.”
Chary is a senior environmental engineer for the drilling and technology directorate at Kuwait Oil Company and 10-year ASSP member. His safety career spans more than 17 years in the oil and gas, consultancy and chemical sectors.
As an expert at implementing workplace safety standards, his wide-ranging areas of professional responsibility include environmental management systems, environmentally friendly drilling operations, chemical management, air emissions compliance, global sustainability, waste management and recycling, and energy management systems.
Chary also is an expert at implementing workplace safety standards and has collected numerous awards and certificates for his accomplishments in occupational safety and health, according to ASSP.
“He has conducted outstanding technical presentations and a webinar for our group of safety professionals, and his high level of expertise is apparent,” said Herbert Bell, CSP, CHMM, CIHC, QISP, administrator of ASSP’s Environmental Practice Specialty.
Chary is a member of ASSP’s Kuwait Chapter and served as 2016-17 chapter president. For the past eight years, he has served on the advisory committee of ASSP’s Environmental Practice Specialty.
The award is named after Edgar Monsanto Queeny, president of the Monsanto Company on April 16, 1947, when a freighter explosion destroyed the company’s Texas City plant. The incident killed 512 people, including 145 Monsanto employees, and led to measures that forever enhanced safety at the company through Queeny’s leadership.
Lorraine Martin will join the organization on June 3.
Lorraine Martin, has been named the new president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC).
The current co-founder of the nonprofit Pegasus Springs Foundation will join NSC on June 3 at its headquarters in Itasca, IL, in suburban Chicago.
“Lorraine has more than 30 years’ experience leading and developing successful global and international businesses,” said NSC Chairman Mark Vergnano, in a statement. “She has a successful track record of working in both civic and corporate roles, which makes her a natural fit for the Council – an organization that offers a suite of products, training services and advocacy resources with the mission of eliminating preventable deaths.”
As co-founder and current president of the Pegasus Springs Foundation, Martin has focused on providing opportunities for educators, students and community members to collaborate on learning models. She is an enthusiastic advocate for school, community and national resource engagement.
Martin is actively involved and passionately dedicated to social impact and global change endeavors promoting diversity, inclusion and equality. As a champion for advancing women and girls in STEM, she was recently named among STEMConnector’s 100 Corporate Women Leaders, and she frequently lectures on core issues related to the cause.
Over her career, she has led global aircraft and complex system development and manufacturing, always with a focus on safety for the employees and for those who used the products, often in high consequence environments. Among her top achievements, Ms. Martin led the largest defense program, F-35 Lightning II, a stealth fighter aircraft.
“Saving lives and preventing needless injuries is a noble mission and one I was drawn to immediately,” Martin said. “I am deeply passionate and committed to keeping people safe wherever they are, and I will bring that commitment to NSC as we work to eliminate all preventable deaths.”
The NSC board partnered with Koya Leadership Partners, the executive recruiting firm that specializes in mission-driven searches, on the comprehensive national search that resulted in Martin's recruitment.
Begin planning for new safety technologies by determining which ones are most suitable for your current and future needs.
A year ago, I wrote about updating your safety programs and processes to meet the challenges of Industry 4.0 (“Safety 4.0,” April 2018). I mentioned the technologies that are, in part, driving this new industrial revolution. I now would like to challenge each organization to at least begin planning for these new technologies by formulating a projection of which ones should be adopted in what order.
Obviously, such a plan will have to be flexible since the technologies are progressing so rapidly and their prices are dropping so quickly, but such a plan can help provide a potential roadmap for navigating the changes Industry 4.0 will inevitably bring. This is not a list of specific items, but rather the types of items and their potential uses. Many of these will revolutionize current safety efforts and open new possibilities that we have not been able to achieve without them.
Consider the following categories of new technologies and prioritize them by potential contribution to your safety needs.
Other than computer-based training (CBT), very little progress has been made from the one-room school days. But now we have microlearning: device-based modules of training utilizing the latest brain sciences and other breakthroughs, and providing follow-up training, easy access to information and tracking of the training-to-performance progression. The training can be delivered to logistically-challenged populations unlike instructor-led classroom training.
Also, it is not just for safety but can be applied to virtually any training need. If training needs updating, this may be your first priority.
Devices that go with the worker can track anything from heart rates and calories burned to location and sudden motion. Falls can be detected and reacted to in real time. EMS can be called as an accident occurs. Workers can be warned if they are entering areas with new or unusual dangers. Worker behaviors related to safety can be monitored with exacting accuracy and discrete feedback mechanisms.
If your workers are at high risks for falls, consider these early on.
In a world already full of tablets and cellphones, it makes sense to utilize them for more than interpersonal communication. Training can be delivered on them; cultures can be formed around them; safety manuals which are always up-to-date can be available on them. Incident reporting can be delivered, polls and surveys can be taken, and prompts can be sent to workers to do stretch-and-flex sessions, observations, audits or take breaks.
Organizational leaders can send messages of strategy and encouragement that will be received by the entire workforce and be in their voice rather than filtered down through organizational levels (where it is often distorted). Lone workers and drivers can be reached with training and information without travel costs and lost work time. Emergencies can be addressed more quickly, and lessons learned from incidents can be communicated in a timely manner.
If communication is a challenge for your organization, consider how these technologies could help.
In many heavy construction businesses, the most serious injuries and majority of fatalities are caused by workers being hit or crushed by equipment. New sensors can alert heavy-equipment operators of the presence of workers in their blind spots and, in some cases, equipment can react to these alerts more quickly than the operator. Robotic equipment can detect workers in the line of fire and take corrective action.
If you don’t have the budget for these devices, try acquiring them through your supply chain. Many providers can add them as standard equipment on what you purchase or lease them if they know you want or require it.
Other types of sensors can tell you when someone enters a work zone and if they are wearing the proper PPE for that area. They also can have chips built into clothing or equipment to allow you to track and locate any worker. You also can determine if everyone on a shift actually left the workplace at the end of the day. In an emergency, this can be critical.
If these types of accidents have happened in your organization, these may be the answer.
ROBOTICS AND DRONES
Confined space entries are being performed by robots rather than humans in many situations. Inspections at height and aerial surveys are being performed by drones rather than humans. These technologies are taking workers out of harm’s way and allowing them to operate a piece of equipment that takes all the risks.
In many organizations, these are the types of risks with the highest potential of severity.
Many cardboard and metal signs are being replaced with tablet-type devices that can be stationed in critical areas and changed or updated online. This allows more control and quicker changes. Some organizations are automating control of either foot or vehicle traffic in construction zones or hazardous areas of manufacturing plants.
If you have had incidents related to incorrect or unreadable signage, consider these.
There currently are three distinct types of exoskeletons on the market that range from avoiding sprains and strains, to preventing cumulative injuries, to turning a worker into a human forklift. This is a giant step above the wearable technologies mentioned first. These suits provide increased capabilities rather than just information or monitoring.
If workers are doing awkward, repetitive, or exceptionally heavy work, these might be your solution.
The major issues with adopting these technologies will be budget and resistance. The budget problem will largely take care of itself if it has not already done so. Prices on these new technologies are coming down quickly; this is what led to Industry 4.0 in the first place.
The resistance issue will take more time but can be greatly facilitated by adopting a technology roadmap (in sequence rather than all at once) and preparing workers mentally for these inevitable changes.
Safety leaders need to be able to identify and address mental health issues sooner rather than later.
By definition, the responsibility of an EHS professional is to provide and maintain a workplace environment that is healthy and safe for all employees, as well as others who are on the premises. Keeping workers safe from physical harm from equipment, vehicles and even other employees is implied in that job description, but there’s a disturbing and growing trend that suggests sometimes the biggest threat to a worker is their own state of mind.
Those who suffer from mental illness carry a stigma that for far too long has seen them treated as a minority, as somehow “less than normal,” whatever that means. In fact, the whole concept of “normal” needs to be reconsidered; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of the population has been or will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. What’s more, in any given year 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness. So if anything, mental illness is the norm rather than the exception.
All the more reason, than, for EHS professionals to be more proactive in addressing the impact of mental illness on the workplace. Some have estimated that mental illness costs the U.S. economy $200 billion and the worldwide economy roughly $1 trillion in lost productivity. Measuring the costs in terms of the damage mental illness can inflict on those who suffer from it, their families and their co-workers is incalculable. And in far too many cases, the result can lead to suicide.
“Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” says Deb Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.”
Based on the CDC’s research, the jobs most at risk for suicides by males are in construction and mining, while for females the most at-risk jobs are in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media categories. But as a Reuters report points out, while the CDC can identify the occupations most at risk for suicide, there’s no clear understanding as of yet as to what workplace characteristics might contribute to suicide.
“Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about, far too many people are still suffering,” points out Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “People are simply not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives, and too many don’t see a way out.”
For the past 70 years, May has been designated as Mental Health Month. Take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with your company’s employee assistance programs and workplace wellness programs. There are numerous apps available, packaged with various wearable devices, that can monitor stress, heart rate, mood disorders and other early-warning signs of severe depression and suicidal ideation. And make sure your employees are aware of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK.
“We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns,” urges Gionfriddo. “We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes.”
10 Steps to a Mentally Healthier Workplace
1. Productive atmosphere. That means the facility is clean and well maintained; that employees feel respected and appreciated; and that intimidation, bullying and harassment are not tolerated.
2. Pay employees a livable wage.
3. Reasonable accommodation. That includes provisions for physical and mental disabilities, which could mean changes to the work space or schedule, or using technologically-adapted equipment.
4. Provide a comprehensive health insurance plan. Such a plan should include smoking-cessation, weight-loss, and substance abuse programs.
5. Open and transparent communication.
6. Employee accountability. Employees must be willing to support each other as well as management.
7. Management accountability. Employees should be encouraged and allowed to provide work-related feedback to their supervisors (anonymously if necessary).
8. Offer opportunities for a work/life balance. That includes thing like flexible schedules and telecommuting (if applicable).
9. Emphasize clear and positive values. Everybody inside and outside the company should know what your organization stands for.
10. Fitness. Encourage employees to be physically active and stay fit. If possible, incentivize employees to join a gym or take fitness classes.—Mental Health America
Resistance left buried produces frustrated and disenchanted employees, turnover, and increased cost and delays. At worst, change never happens at all.
"We tried it before, it didn’t work.” “I don’t have time, I have too many other responsibilities.” “They won’t use it.” “They don’t need it.” “They already know how.” “The system can’t handle it, it’s already too slow.”
On and on rolled the excuses until I heard these words: “Management only wants this change so they can get rid of us.”
There it was, the underlying reason why this group of employees was resisting change. Yes, those other pretexts had some merit but as soon as one was addressed, another surfaced, then another and another. This one was different. While the other excuses aimed at blaming or deflecting, this one indicated there was something more, something real. It indicated fear, it expressed anger, and most notably, it expressed that these employees cared.
I have to admit that as I listened to those words an undetectable smile formed on my face. This may sound surprising, but I find remarkable value in unearthing resistance and its source. Although mitigating resistance may be a time-consuming and unpleasant task, the act of unearthing resistance allows energy and resources to be effectively focused on it. The outcome: desired results and return on investment. On the other hand, resistance left buried produces the opposite outcomes: frustrated and disenchanted employees, turnover, and increased cost and delays. In the worst-case scenario, there is no change at all while leaving the next change initiative at a disadvantage.
During times of change, managers and supervisors can approach resistance in four ways:
Feed it. The very roles needed to defuse resistance can increase it. A leader who is not on board with a change can actually foster resistance through their words and actions, or lack thereof. Employees quite often follow their direct supervisor’s lead. When they hear statements like “they want you to” or “I don’t necessarily agree with this but we have to,” or observe managers contradicting the change through their decisions and actions, employees will believe the change is optional. This direct and or indirect leadership behavior feeds resistance.
Ignore it. Too often managers assume that the change being implemented is no big deal, employees will like it because they do, someone else will take care of it, or employees will get on board soon or later. Quite the opposite is true. Resistance to change should be expected and planned for. Since the most critical role to address resistance is an employee’s direct supervisor, turning a blind eye toward resistance simply prolongs the inevitable and increases the amount of effort to overcome it.
Avoid it. These managers typically don’t like conflict, don’t want to be viewed as the bad guy, or don’t feel they are equipped or empowered to handle resistance. They tend to keep conversations brief and at the surface level. There is no desire to get into details with employees. They shy away from seeking feedback and input from their employees, and keep themselves consumed with other duties so they don’t have to address it. Resistance can only be avoided for so long before it becomes an arduous obstacle. Sooner or later it will need to be addressed and just like ignoring it, it consumes more time and effort to overcome it the longer it is left unaddressed.
Unearth it. Managers who acknowledge resistance, identify it early, understand the reason behind it, and actively work to help employees through it, know their organizations will achieve the accompanying benefits on time and on budget. Engaging employees, seeking feedback, owning the change, investing time, building trust, actively listening, seeking to understand, and being authentic are the tools successful resistance managers employ.
Most change initiatives inevitably generate some form of resistance. It is a natural human response when leaving what’s familiar and moving to the unfamiliar. As managers and supervisors we can rebuff it or we can pursue resistance, knowing that being successful in our role as a change leader means we need to proactively and intentionally help others through theirs.
As principal consultant for Life Cycle Engineering, Jeff Nevenhoven develops solutions that align organizational systems, structures, controls and leadership styles with a company’s business vision and performance objectives. Jeff’s experience enables him to work effectively with employees throughout an organization to implement solutions that remove functional barriers and prepare and lead people through sustaining change.You can reach Jeff at jnevenhoven@LCE.com.
Things were going so well, until they weren’t. What went wrong?
Boeing just came off the best year in its history. And now it faces a crisis that could very well end the company. How can this be?
Last year, Boeing surpassed Airbus as the biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world. It snapped a five-year Airbus winning streak. It seemed Boeing was finally on a roll.
Arrogance Breeds Ignorance
When a company is on a roll, it begins to think it can do no wrong. Therefore, it begins to act like it can do no wrong. And then arrogance blinds it to things that can go wrong.
In Boeing’s case, the seeds of arrogance were sowed in the success of the 737 platform. It has dominated the aircraft market for decades. Boeing saw no reason why it couldn’t dominate the market for decades to come with its new 737 Max platform. It couldn’t imagine what could possibly go wrong, because everything was going right.
I’ve had experience with this. Every single time I think my business is humming along fine, I get blindsided by something I never expected. I’ve learned that when I start thinking like that, it is time to set my arrogance aside, dig in hard and find the crisis that is inevitably looming.
Don’t Believe Your “Bumper Sticker” Values
When an airline employee does something galactically stupid that makes the national news, the CEO automatically jumps to the defense of the employee before the facts are known. Why is that? Because they believe their “bumper sticker” values, which are usually a mish mosh of “we treat every customer with dignity and respect” or other such nonsense. These bumper sticker slogans may look good on an annual report but usually don’t reflect reality.
After the 737 Max crashes, whistleblowers came out of the woodwork to cite safety concerns. But Boeing claims to value safety and integrity. Boeing even has a policy called “speak up” that ostensibly creates an environment “where employees are comfortable raising concerns without fear of retaliation.” If that were true, why would whistleblowers even be necessary?
If you’re the CEO, don’t automatically assume your bumper sticker values are the real values of the organization.
I suspect that Boeing’s real values are all about profit. Profit at all costs. Profit above all else.
Profit Above All Else
Don’t get me wrong—the number one objective of any for-profit business is to make a profit. But if making a profit is subordinated to every other objective, such as product safety in Boeing’s case, people will start doing all kinds of strange things. Like cooking the books. Or engaging in “creative accounting.” Or fudging on safety reports. Always remember that people will behave the way they are measured and compensated to behave. Or in the way they are intimidated or threatened to behave. This is probably what is happening inside Boeing.
I once worked for a company that incentivized, encouraged, cajoled, threatened, and intimidated people to make the profit number above all else. Trust me when I tell you this starts at the top. The CEO sets the stage for how the whole organization behaves. And if he mandates profit above all else, as that mandate moves down the organization, it gets worse.
As an example, the CEO will say something like, “We have to make the profit budget, ‘no matter what.’” His direct reports probably won’t take that literally, and if you asked Boeing’s CEO whether it meant profit above safety, I bet he would say, “of course not.” But by the time it gets down to the troops, it literally means “no matter what.” The lower you get in the organization, the more literally the mandate will be interpreted. It means falsifying safety reports. It means covering anything up that could stop production.
The facts are, the 737 Max will account for nearly a half trillion dollars in sales in the coming years. If that disappears due to the safety problems, it becomes a life-threatening event. And you can be sure Boeing employees know that. They know their jobs will be lost. They know their year-end bonuses will be lost if they don't do everything they can to maximize profit. How do you think they will behave?
They won’t work any harder or faster because they can’t. But they can cut more corners and fudge more reports in an attempt to make the numbers.
If you are the CEO, be very careful what you mandate and how it will be interpreted and acted upon as it moves lower in the organization.
What Goes Down Must Come Up
The Boeing 737 is a platform originally designed in the ‘60s. It has outlasted later designs, including the 757 and 767. For cost and certification reasons, Boeing made the decision to leave the airframe as is and work around that platform, yet still incorporate bigger engines. That is what necessitated the MCAS flight control system, which is arguably the cause of the two crashes.
Mandates get interpreted and acted upon as they go lower in the organization. But so do concerns with the mandate as they rise to the top. With respect to extending the 737 platform, an engineer somewhere in the bowels of the organization probably said, “Don’t do it; this will compromise safety.” But by the time that concern rose to the top, it would have been restated as, “We can do it, but we will have to make some trade-offs.”
If you are the CEO, get down in the trenches and talk to the people that have concerns about your mandates. Don’t let their message get massaged and repackaged before it gets to you.
When You Make a Huge Blunder, Admit It and Move on.
Any media expert will tell you the worst thing you can do is not admit it when you have made a mistake. The bigger the mistake, and the longer you deny it, the more the media will hound you until you do. The story never goes away. In the annual shareholder meeting, the media repeatedly asked Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg if the 737 Max crashes resulted from a design flaw in the MCAS flight control system. He refused to acknowledge that possibility, so the media persisted. And they will continue to persist until he does.
I understand that Muilenberg must be very careful in what he says. If he simply admitted Boeing screwed up, the stock would take a dive and he would lose his job to boot. He must walk a fine line between the unvarnished truth and stock holder interests. But public opinion hates CEOs who won’t admit they were wrong. If the public can’t trust you to admit you did something wrong, how can they ever trust you when you say you were not wrong?
The problem gets worse. When the CEO won’t admit a mistake, what do you think the rest of the organization does? You guessed it—the rest of the organization will drink the Kool-Aid and not admit something was wrong either. And if the organization won’t admit something was wrong, how do they fix it? You can’t fix a problem you won’t even acknowledge exists.
One Final Word
Businesses are built or destroyed based upon values and culture. And culture is insidious, marvelous, and potentially destructive all at the same time. If you are a CEO, make sure you create what I call a culture by design, not default.
Steven Blue is president and CEO of Miller Ingenuity, a global supplier of high-technology systems for railroad worker protection. He is also a business transformation expert and keynote speaker whose five books include American Manufacturing 2.0: What Went Wrong and How to Make It Right, the bestselling Mastering the Art of Success and his latest, Metamorphosis: From Rust Belt to High Tech in a 21st Century World.
A Guide to Developing and Sustaining a Safe Workplace
Too many companies treat the idea of developing a safety culture as a "nice to have...someday." It's not until a major incident — or even worse, a fatality — occurs that these companies finally get serious about safety. By then, it’s already too late, and the damage to their workforce, their reputation and their bottom line is often irreparable.
But luckily, there’s still time for most companies to fully embrace and integrate safety compliance into their culture. And it all starts with learning to articulate the benefits of a safety culture, and knowing the risks that occur when a company doesn’t properly train its workforce to achieve that goal.
In this special eBook, you’ll learn the elements of effective compliance training and the kinds of behavioral changes that need to occur to ensure its effectiveness. We’ll also look at some of the biggest mistakes leaders have made that have resulted in their employees losing trust in management, and have derailed any kind of momentum the company might have had towards establishing a safety compliance culture.
“We often take for granted that our families will be safe and healthy at the end of the workday,” said ASSP President Rixio Medina. “But that assumption is far from reality given the many who are lost every day around the world as a result of work-related incidents.”
ASSP) is calling on widespread participation in a number of activities that began on April 28 with the observance of Workers’ Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for workers who died on the job.
“We often take for granted that our families will be safe and healthy at the end of the workday,” said ASSP President Rixio Medina. “But that assumption is far from reality given the many who are lost every day around the world as a result of work-related incidents.”
“These campaigns draw attention to the responsibility we all have to make our jobs safer and healthier."Medina added
ASSP’s 38,000-plus members worldwide – who develop and implement safety and health management programs for employers in every industry – will be involved in the following safety observances.
May 5-11: Safety and Health Week- Created by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (and formerly known as North American Occupational Safety and Health Week), this observance encourages grassroots efforts at every organization in all industries to bolster workplace safety. (#SafetyAndHealthWeek)
May 6-10: Construction Safety Week– This campaign is led by an alliance of construction firms and it raises safety awareness on construction sites. Stand-downs and workplace presentations engage employees and offer important reminders about safe building practices. (#ConstructionSafetyWeek)
May 6-10:National Safety Stand-Down -The sixth-annual campaign to prevent falls in construction is led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in partnership with ASSP. Falls from height are a leading cause of death for construction workers. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on fall hazards and reinforce the importance of fall prevention. (#StandDown4Safety)
August 12-18: Safe + Sound Week– Spearheaded by OSHA, this campaign aims to connect safety and profitability. Safety and health management programs address workplace risks before they cause problems, improving a company’s bottom line. (#SafeAndSoundAtWork)
Even on bad days, we have a responsibility to our people to be fair and consistent.
Over the past 20 years of leading people and teams, I’ve had the privilege to work with, and for, great leaders. I have also worked for some not-so-great leaders. Both experiences were extremely valuable to my personal development. The great ones taught me the importance of servant leadership, humility, and the cornerstone of all leadership: dignity and respect for others. Equally, the not-so-great leaders reinforced that message through their negative actions with people, believing that the human side of leadership was unimportant, and that people were simply another commodity and could be replaced.
My personal leadership development started with my father, who was a leader for most of his career. At work he was highly respected, a man of integrity and character, and it was obvious. But one of my biggest leadership lessons—what I eventually named the burden of leadership--I learned from interacting with him at home.
Have you ever had a boss in which you would need to assess their mood before approaching them? Or have you ever commented to a co-worker, “Stay clear of the boss today, he’s in a foul mood.” My father, who suffered from depression, was like that in his personal life—the weight of his responsibilities affected his mood. At times, I would really need to size up his mood before asking him for something.
Years later, while working for one of the not-so-great leaders, it dawned on me. Why is it my problem that this person is always in a bad mood, never says hello, and yells constantly? Why do I need to assess his mood before approaching?
I finally understood, as leaders, we have a responsibility to our people. To be consistent, fair and predictable in terms of our behavior. We are also human, and we have bad days, but we do have a responsibility to be fair and consistent. In other words, we have the burden of being a leader.
As leaders, we:
Must set the example in everything we do, every day.
Don’t have the luxury of wearing our emotions on our sleeves
Must remember the Golden Rule: Always treat people with dignity and respect.
Lead every minute of every day through words and actions.
I’m certain many professionals and leaders struggle with this at times. As leaders, you have a responsibility to your people, to the company and to yourself to be the best leader you can be. Leading people is a privilege, and a burden. Your willingness to accept both is what makes you special.
Mark Whitten is the U.S. director of operations for Martinrea International, a Tier 1 automotive supplier.