Sunday, August 11, 2013

Use A3 to Build a Safety Culture

A simple definition of Policy Deployment-everyone knows the right thing to do. There is no question in anyone's mind which way the ship is headed. I've suggested in previous blogs the four essential components to accomplish this:  
1. Dashboard metrics-everyone can see where we are right now relative to where we were and where we want to go. The key is they are metrics like on your car dashboard, not an airplane dashboard-just a few that everyone understands that are updated constantly.
2. Learning-we wouldn't do policy deployment if we are already where we want to be, right? Part of the learning comes from item #3, and some may come from structured, formalized classes-benchmarking others, understanding other ideas, training, etc.
3. Kaizan-how can anyone in the organization move the metrics? One way is to swoop in, command & control style, and fix stuff. Just remember it is disrespectful for ME to fix YOUR process. Self-directed work teams using A3 to do PDCA is a good way for people to lverage diversity, gain consensus, and teach their peers what they've learned. Companies I work with this year have completed dozens have A3s this year. The A3 closing can be thought of as "smippets" of learning about various processes taught by the experts who do the work.
4. A sense of urgency or reason to change. This needs to be communicated often to shake everyone loose from complaceny or busy-ness. 

Once  you've established  these 4 things, you can plug in any "policy" you want to "deploy". Today, let's plug in safety, and how a few companies have done it.

Everyone understands that the health and safety of people in our business is of paramount importance, but in some cases, it is an activity that is done outside of regular work. In some cases, the only time we think about it is when there is some sort of incident. An accident or an injury. Often, when this happens, we react with a countermeasure. The other time we think about it is when we need to enforce a policy of some kind....people not wearing PPE, for example. We may have to write someone up, send them home, or worse, let them go. Instead of reacting, can we be proactive? I believe the key is to transfer ownership of safety to the people who do the work.  

Employee engagement is essential if a company wants to reduce incidents and injuries.  But getting everyone engaged is not always easy. A3 is a great way to get people not only involved in the recognition of workplace hazards, but in their control as well. Engaging employees to take health and safety into their own hands prevents potential accidents and injuries from happening; those small hazards you disregard on a daily basis become accidents the longer you ignore them.  Sweat the small stuff so you don’t have to deal with bigger issues down the line.

One company has set up seperate A3 boards in each of their buildings devoted to "safety" projects. If an employee is involved in a "near miss", notices a potential hazard or is injured, they are encouraged to put the incident on the board, pull together a team of 3-5 people, gain a thorough understanding of the current condition, work through root cause, and implement countermeasures. The beautiful part is the A3 closing, where the A3 leaders teaches his/her peers what happened or almost happened, and what the countermeasures are. People pay very close attention when they are being taught by their peers! It also gives the Safety Director the opportunity to remind people about specific safety topics related to that A3.

Another company used the A3 process to develop their in-house forklift training. Previously, they paid a steep price to have the training done by an outside contractor. The A3 team developed awareness and operator training, produced a training program based on TWI, and the "new" forklift" drivers demonstrated their new skill at the closing. Ou government mandates what training can be done in-house, and what training needs to be done by a certified trainer. Forklift training can be taught in-house.

If I walk into your plant, and pull someone aside randomly, and ask them "what's important here", will they say safety? If there is ALWAYS an A3 on the board that involves health and safety, and they've attended a couple of dozen safety A3 closings, I bet they answer "safety".    

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