Assigning Safety to Another Department

Would you assign your organizations finances to the operations team?  Would you assign your quality work to the human resources team?  The answer is no.  You assign work to the educated and experienced professional with a credential in the field.

A growing trend is appearing on my radar.  The trend toward rolling safety work into another position or assigning safety work to an unqualified person.  Not to say people cannot learn to implement safety, it is to say, safety is not just reading and interpreting laws written by OSHA or “bench marking” off another organization that you saw in the past.

Safety is about reducing workplace injuries.  It is about increasing productivity through creating a safer environment.  It is about sending people home to their families at the end of shift in a healthy condition.  In the US, we are still seeing an increase in workplace injuries and fatalities.  So, are we really doing the right thing by our employees when we assign safety to the unqualified?

Many articles on behavior based safety or on standard safety work lead the reader to believe that safety is a part of everyone’s job.  Yes, safety is for everyone but it does not mean we do not need a qualified leader to set the strategy, implement the work and know what truly is a hazard and how to mitigate.  The safety person is the organization’s coach.  The person to ensure that all parts of the injury reduction strategies are working.

The down fall of assigning safety to another department is a diffusion of efforts and an increase in injuries.  Deploying safety is not a simple task.  It has many moving parts, regulators, engagement, auditors and humans.  It requires an experienced educated safety person.  Saving short term dollars on assigning work to the untrained tends to lead to long term losses.

Companies that really need to build their safety culture, control costs and are not yet ready to use an internal professional, help is still available.  Contact your local American Society of Safety Professionals, find a coach, select ANSI or ISO standards, find training that helps your team succeed.  Don’t do this work alone.  The result is increased injuries, increase OSHA fines and a loss of customers that are requiring social responsibility commitments.

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a Licensed Counselor who uses her education and skills to help leaders become their best version that ensures organizational success.  She is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to implement sustainable employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries and improve employee engagement.  For more information


Unlocking the Mysteries of OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Rule (Part 1 of 2)

vEry good information for those managing the safety efforts without a professional safety staff person. C-suite and Quality leaders in charge of safety I would recommend reaching out to the Safety professional for assistance.

The OSHA Defense Report

By Eric J. Conn and Aaron R. Gelb

For a host of reasons, it is vital for employers to get compliance with OSHA’s standard for the “control of hazardous energy (Lockout/Tagout)” (29 C.F.R. 1910.147) right, but it also happens to be one of the least understood and most often botched set of regulatory requirements in OSHA’s portfolio of standards.

This two-part article will lay out:

  • [Part 1]: Five reasons it is critical for employers to ensure compliance with OSHA’s LOTO Standard; and
  • [Part 2]: Five common mistakes employers make when implementing the LOTO requirements.

Part 1: Why it is Critical for Employers to Get LOTO Right

The list could be much longer, but we have identified five enforcement-related reasons why it is particularly important for employers to fully grasp OSHA’s LOTO requirements and to implement them effectively.

Before we get to the enforcement reasons for strict LOTO compliance, let’s first…

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Are You a Good Leader ?


I am often confronted with “Leaders” that claim to be good at leading people but when I ask “what makes you good at leading people”?  I hear a variety of reasons but what they believe about themselves is not what others see.  It seems we are blind to what we present to others.

Leadership Failure Number One:  The Decision Maker!  Loud, gregarious, back slapping best buddy leader.  This is the leader that talks non-stop.  The leader that is going to tell us how it will be done with a big smile and fast style.  This leader is expressive, controlling and really has no time for discussion, or if discussion is necessary, it is more about telling you that  you have a voice, all ideas are welcome and then talks over you to let you know how it will be.

Leadership Failure Number Two:  The Micro-Manager!  Let’s tell people how it is done, when it is done and then offers advise on how to get it done again.  This leader leaves no room for innovation from anyone but themselves.  This leader holds everyone accountable.  You produce or you fail.   This leader excepts no ownership for his style and rather blames others for failed activities.

Leadership Failure Number Three:  NOT the decision-maker!  This is the leader who does not make decisions.  They solicit everyone’s ideas and then sits on the information.  They do not make decisions well for fear of failure or making the wrong move.  This leader will listen, ask questions then circle back for more.

Each of these styles come from an underlying personal fear of failure.  This manifests in a lack of trust in others or self.   This fear comes from the very early attachment we receive as infants and is carried on in our adult lives (Duncan).  This fear is at our primal level and drives our future choices until we stop to recognize and learn healthier ways to interact.  Leaders who do not recognize how they are viewed and are not open to crucial conversations will continue to think they are great leaders and fail to recognize the damage they can create in an organization.  We could all tell stories of bad leaders!

Leaders in positions of power need more than a leadership style survey.  They need coaching on how they present both verbally and non-verbally, patterns of communication and how attachment fear influences today’s behaviors.   As the saying goes ” Leaders are not born, they are created”  usually through hard work at both the personal and professional level.  Leadership Coaching, executive coaching whatever you want to call it, participate and learn.

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a Licensed Counselor who uses her education and skills to help leaders become their best version that ensures organizational success.  She is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to implement sustainable employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries and improve employee engagement.  For more information






Behavior v. Culture

IMG_0091 - CopyThis employee puts his/her arm through hot pipes to reach a valve many times a shift.  The employees have reported forearm burns but no correction was forthcoming.  The behavior continued, the burns continued and when asked about it the employees stated that they advised management but nothing happened (since corrected).

It is not enough to just expect the employees to behave in a safe manner.  Systems thinking tells us, the culture of an organization applies pressure that influences what employees will say and do.

Behavior Based Safety applied well can be very beneficial in recognizing hazards and reducing injuries.  Whether you purchase BBS program or create your own it is important to remember several critical success factors.

Success factor one:  Leaders implementing BBS programs will be more successful if they start by assessing the organization’s readiness for such a program.  The organization must have a trusting environment.  Can employees speak up without fear of being ignored or dismissed?  Using a simple engagement survey or safety survey to understand employees beliefs around speaking up, trust in leadership and the non-verbal language at play.

Success factor two:  A communication system is in place that becomes a feedback loop.  Information must flow up, out and back in order for employees to feel valued, appreciated, and heard.  This is critical to reducing injuries, and turn over.  If an observation is conducted, what findings were corrected at the moment, what findings need additional steps and how will it be communicated and tracked throughout the organization?

Success factor three:  The non-verbal communication.  What is our non verbal language  saying when our verbal language says “Safety First”  Often, we have safety slogans that claim safety is first and yet we continue to leave a correction incomplete.  Organizations will encourage behavior changes and yet not correct the engineering issues at play.  This is where the Hierarchy of controls is very valuable.  It requires an organization to assess all possible solutions and pick the best for the situation.  This system approach allows for employees to participate in finding the solution without dismissing their efforts.

Behavior is influenced by culture. When implementing a BBS program remember to assess the current state, design a robust communication system that flows up, out and back and then do what you say, understand how the non-verbal language is competing with the spoken word.  For more details on implementing or rejuvenating your safety behavior observation program contact me.   I would be happy to provide tools and tips

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries.  For more information

Safety Management Systems


Not all safety management systems are created equal.  Many organizations advertise that they have created their own version of a safety program.  While some of these may be excellent programs our safety future lies in following the standards developed by our experts.

Why now?  Today’s customer is savvy about our impact on the environment and how we care for our employees.  Many of these clients now require our organizations to adhere to compliance audits before agreeing to work with us.  These audits look for gaps in our social responsibility.  These customers want to know if we provide a quality safe product or service.

On the horizon we see that safety programs will be required to be accredited by a certifying body.  The future of Safety will be to employee occupational health and safety management systems as published by the International Standards Organization and or The American National Standards Organizations.

The following steps are designed for senior leadership seeking to implement a standard that may be certified and robust enough to reduce workplace injuries.  These steps are an overview and greater detail is available upon request.

  1.  Pick a recognized accredited safety system.  ISO 45001 or ANSI Z10 are two exceptional systems that are considered the Gold standard in the safety world.   Both of these systems employ the lean principals of Plan, Do, Check, Act as a methodology to assess, implement and recheck to ensure your plan is working.  These systems unite and commit leadership to implement a safe work environment.  They both require an engaged work force, that is more than the monthly safety committee meeting.  These systems have an engineering component or management of change process that ensure that change or new equipment/processes are vetted for safety.
  2.  Have a communication system.  Have a visual communication system.  Everyone needs to be empowered to speak up in their work environment.  Employee concerns that are forgotten or ignored lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction in the workplace.  Over time, employees will not report or even “fix” a hazard when it is recognized.  A robust communication system invites all employees to engage in decision making from the floor to the board room and back to the floor.  Obeya systems are an excellent tool to immediately recognize and adjust issues in real time.  They are an excellent visual tool the help the feedback loop close by informing all parties.
  3. Stop the “fire fighting” EHS professionals are often pulled several directions at once.  Fix this, investigate that style of management.  EHS professionals with a plan, engaged leadership and participating employees have a team approach to solving an organizations process improvements.  Start with the Gap analysis, what are the gaps in your system?  How will you set your plan of implementation? How will all employees be measured in their participation?  Set a written plan, SMART goals for all and track it monthly-visually.
  4. Coach, coach, coach.  EHS professional are the organization’s coach.   They set the vision, educate the resources and provide the tools for the leaders to carry on.  Leaders are the best source to sustain the occupational health and safety management system.  It is this talent that brings expertise to the details of the department activities with safe expectations.

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries.  For more information

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!  I am launching this website for C-Suite executive that are tasked with improving their safety numbers.  Tight resources, finding the right expertise and leveraging best practices across many sites can be very challenging for the leadership team to undertake.  My goal is to ease the implementation by sharing best practices for implementing the framework and the processes necessary for executives to deploy health and safety as part of their day to day operations.  It is not enough to respond to compliance issues.  Prevention strategies are required for growing organization to mitigate costly losses.

This site will address lean manufacturing, ISO/ANSI standards, lean behavior based safety initiatives and auditing strategies to ensure the reduction of the frequency and severity of workplace incidents.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton