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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Common Themes at the Minnesota Safety and Health Conference

I was struck by the common themes I heard during the presentations at the recent 2017 Minnesota Safety and Health Conference. This annual conference is presented by the Minnesota Safety Council and is attended by risk management and safety professionals from both the private and public sector. The attendees reflect a good mix of experience and training. This year’s conference slogan was “Drive Safe, Work Safe, and Live Safe.”

Like many large conferences, there were large general sessions and then a mix of concurrent sessions which tend to have a smaller focus and feature both successful safety programs and upcoming challenges. The session titles of “Fit for Duty,” “Human Error—What a Lame Excuse,” “Journey to Zero,” “Modernization of Security Operations and Awareness,” and “I Own Safety” were reflective of session messages. And I noted some frequent themes in these sessions.

Whether it was called employee-driven, employee involvement, or ownership, the theme of employee engagement was common. Successful safety programs involve front-line staff from the beginning. They are everyone’s program. These organizations continually look to their employees to identify safety problems, predict upcoming issues, and brainstorm safety solutions.

Benefits Beyond Injury Reduction 
Presenters would point to a chart with a declining line and explain how injuries have been reduced and the cost of injuries has declined. Many spoke about the additional positive consequences resulting from their safety programs, including increases in: productivity, worker satisfaction, and job retention—and even the cleanliness of their operations. In one session, they noted the company’s sales team features their safety record when working with potential clients. They stress the company’s commitment to safety, and the resulting lack of injuries translates to quality, on-time performance, and increased customer satisfaction

Many presentations mentioned the use of metrics to monitor their injuries and to spot trends. There was cautionary advice about carefully examining the metrics, as they may not always be measuring what the risk manager thinks is being measured. And there was quite a bit of discussion about vehicle telemetric programs where fleet vehicles with sensors document the vehicles’ speed, sudden stops, swerves, and seat belt use. The discussions and questions indicated this may be commonplace soon.

A shout out to Owatonna and Rochester Public Utilities and the City of Red Wing on receiving Governor’s Safety Achievement Awards. The awards are well deserved! Congratulations.

Up next: Observations from a Live Burn

Stay safe,

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