Live from Safety 2008: DuPont Benchmarks Best Practices

Does the pressure to “do more with less” compete with your company’s safety values? How consistent is the safety culture at your organization, and, if you have multiple locations, how do you know the culture is the same across the board? These are some of the questions DuPont Safety Resources is asking safety professionals in attendance at Safety 2008—ASSE’s annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas this week.

While many of the more than 400 organizations on the expo floor are offering hands-on demonstrations of their products and programs, DuPont (Booth 319) is conducting condensed versions of its workplace safety seminars throughout the day for all who will take 15 or 20 minutes to listen. Typically available only to clients, these seminars are designed to provide companies with tools to assess their current safety culture and to identify potential pitfalls in their safety programs and thereby enhance future safety decision making, said Bob Krzywicki, the North America Operations Leader for DuPont Safety Resources.

”We’ve learned some things over the centuries,” Krzywicki said Monday, referring to DuPont’s origins in 1802 as a powder mill operation and the introduction, more than 12 years ago, of its Safety Perception Survey, an Internet-based survey system designed for companies with at least 200 employees. Using a set of 24 standardized core questions designed to diagnose a company’s safety culture, the survey measures a cross-section of responses from an organization’s employees and supervisors, assessing whether safety is a core value held by management and whether that message is effectively transferred to the worker on the floor. The responses are then compared to those of companies that are “world-class” in terms of performance. The results are often “a rather sobering experience for many organizations,” he said.

”This kind of survey is able to tell an organization if its foundation is perhaps not quite as strong as they think it is,” Krzywicki said, adding that the tool, which has been used in 51 industries in 41 countries and is available in 19 languages, can be used to shift corporate mindsets. “It asks, ‘What does management do to lead employees to safety excellence?’ and ‘What actions do employees and the organization as a whole take on a regular basis to increase safety performance?’ This is the framework by which we enhance an organization. When you look at programs, sometimes the ‘what’s’ can be in place, but the ‘how’s’ might be holding you back.”

Krzywicki added that culture change does not happen in an organization overnight. “there really isn’t any ‘silver bullet’ to improving safety culture,” he said. “But it can be understood, it can be benchmarked, and it can be measured, and this is a tool that accomplishes that. It shows what’s working for those who are clearly best in class and how others compare.” For more information about DuPont’s benchmarking tools and other consultative offerings, visit www.safety.dupont.com.

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