Summer 2015
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Real Safety Leadership
Security Begins At Home
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Real Safety Leadership
From the SCM Safety Blog 


Recently in conjunction with a management system assessment at a large international airport, we were holding focus groups with line employees, discussing their perceptions of how safety is managed. These focus groups are not only one of the most important pieces of the assessments, but they are also so much fun, because you get to interact with the people who really make safety happen, day in and day out. You get to see an expression of who the organization really is as the employees share stories and interpret those stories. It's just fascinating.


At one particular focus group, the employees were discussing issues with upper management, where they felt management misunderstood the role of the employees and often blamed employees for problems that weren't really the employees' fault. The supervisor for the work crew spoke up and mentioned how often the issues are far worse than the employees may know. He often is called into the offices of upper managers and given a tongue lashing for the workers not getting the work done fast enough or not meeting expectations. The expectation is that the supervisor will then trickle down the discipline to his employees, where the problem (supposedly) really is.


But the supervisor in this case mentioned that his employees didn't realize that this was happening as often as it was happening. Why not? Because he had deliberately chosen to bear the brunt of the production pressures and not share that with his employees. He didn't want his employees to feel that production was more important than working safely. When asked why he did this, he simply stated that it was his job. Now, we've looked at the job descriptions in this organization. Nowhere does it mention in this guy's job description that his job is to shield his employees from undue production pressures. So this supervisor, on his own, because of his concern for his crew, decided to bear this burden on himself.


Folks, that is safety leadership. In the safety profession there's a lot of talk about how we need safety leaders and the idea of leadership is often glorified to be a person out in front of the organization, pointing them in the right direction against all odds. But we don't think that's really leadership. That seems more consistent with hero worship, than leadership. Instead, leadership is a social process used to influence others towards the completion of a common task. There's nothing in that definition that requires someone to be in front of the organization. It's about using the tools in your disposal to influence people to do the things that they already want to do. It's about making it easy for people to achieve their goals (which you also happen to share).


That supervisor from the airport, by removing potential negative influences to his employees, is creating an environment that enables his employees to do what they already want to do - do a great job without getting hurt. How many of our safety programs are designed with this process in mind? How many safety systems focus on
enabling safety rather than


safety? Think about that. In one case (ensuring safety) we are dragging the organization kicking and screaming to do what they apparently don't want to do (or else they wouldn't be kicking and screaming about it). In the other case (enabling safety), we are making it easy for our people to do what they already want to do. It's about identifying and removing barriers that make it hard for people to execute their tasks safely. 


We think this is a seemingly small, but potentially revolutionary shift in how safety management systems are structure, and how safety leadership is conceptualized. How can you get started?


Step 1 is to go out and talk to your employees. Ask them how work really gets done and what makes getting the job done challenging or difficult. Ask them what surprises them when they do jobs. Make a list.


Step 2 is to do an assessment of your safety management system. Identify the gaps, the imperfections, the places where goals are competing, where work is complex, etc. Once identified, list out what your organization is doing to fill those gaps, or mitigate the risk from them. Chances are many of them are filled by employees, not because that's the best option, but just because no one else is dealing with them. In our experience, these issues often seem less problematic on paper than they are in the work environment. List all these out too.


Step 3 is to devise plans to remove the barriers your employees identified and fills the gaps identified in the assessment with system fixes. Involve your employees in identifying those fixes.


Step 4 is simple - follow through. By removing the issues your employees face you will influence their behavior toward the common task of getting the job done safely. You will be enabling safety. Like the airport supervisor, you will be a safety leader.


This is from the SCM Safety Blog 5/18/15, written weekly by Ron Gantt, M.Eng, CSP. You can follow along each week, or catch up on other posts by going here:
Security Begins At Home
Home Safety While You Are Away


Who is doing what at your home while you are away? Whether you are gone to work for the day, or gone on a business trip for a month, you can better focus your attention on what you need to be doing when you know your home (and family) are secure. There are lots of home security systems on the market, and experts are agree that real time video security systems are effective. But what if you can't afford one. What do you do then?


Home security does not have to be expensive to be effective. There are several things you can do to increase your home security without breaking your budget. Here's 10 tips from security experts, including SCM Safety's own former Crime Prevention Officer, Laura Gantt:


1.  Lock your doors. As simple as this sounds, unlocked doors are a primary target for would be burglars and intruders. From our experience, these bad guys are not the most persistent operators. If a door is locked, more times than not, the guy will go on to the next house.

2.  Turn your light(s) on. Bad guys who might break in at night don't like to work in the light, they want to work in the shelter of darkness. Turn your porch light on every night, whether you are home or not. When you are away, connect the light up to a timer so that it goes on with your own regular pattern. That makes it harder for someone who might be watching your house to know if you are home or not. Another option to the timer are light sensing devices that turn on your lights when the sun goes down, and turn them back on at dawn. And make good use of motion detection or sensing lights. When a light switches on as you walk past a house, you think someone saw you and turned on a light. It would work the same at your home. Please consider, though, placing the light so that it would not annoy a neighbor.


3.  Visually friendly houses. A clean, well-trimmed yard does not give those bad guys places to hide. Cut back any shrubs, hanging branches and tall flowers that give someone trying to break into your home a place to work.


4.  A rose has its thorns. And thorns under windows make those windows hard to access. Other plants that can reduce the easy access to your home are citrus trees, pyracantha, holly, or blackberries. For tips on how to plant and other security planting suggestions, follow this link:  


5.  A key under the mat. NO! That's the first place potential intruders look for keys. Find another, more secure place to put your key. The mailbox is another bad place. Good places might include your neighbor's garage (with their permission and knowledge), in a barbeque, or any other unusual place that you would not think to look first or even second.


6.  Noise. A quiet home, especially during the day, sounds like an empty home. Leave the TV or radio on. Have a recording of a dog or cat play on a timed recording so it is not continuous, but more random, as a pet might be.


7.  Nosey neighbors are the best! The neighbor that knows everyone's business may seem annoying at first. But really, this would be good news. Especially when that person knows what vehicles belong in your driveway and those that do not. And they know when you are not home. This person would be the first to pick up the phone and either call to ask you if you had invited someone to stop by, or they might call the police. Either way, it just might stop a burglar from taking your possessions.


8.  Close and secure the windows. About 30% of apartment burglaries are through open windows. Close the window. If you have window locks, use them. If you don't have window locks, get a metal or sturdy wooden rod and put it in the window track. That will prevent the intruder from sliding the window open.


9.  Keep those cards and letters coming. Newspapers too. If someone is watching your house, wanting to break in and take your things, when the mail or newspapers stop being delivered, it's a clear indication that your normal pattern has broken, and you may not be home. If things are being delivered regularly, it's harder to tell if you are away. But don't let these mail pile up in your mailbox or newspapers clutter up your lawns. Remember that nice neighbor we talked about? Ask them to pick up your mail and newspapers if you are away. Yes, someone might see them stop by - but it's better for the bad guy watching your house to see that the neighbor is watching it too, than for it to look un-lived-in should a burglar looking for a target randomly drive by.


10.  SHHH! You want to tell a trusted neighbor that you are going out of town, but don't post it on social media. Surprise your friends with your delightful pictures on Facebook and Instagram when you get home. It's not that hard for criminals to look at social media sites to see who they can target.


These are just a few ideas to help your time away be more secure. You may come up with more thoughts. Please send them to us at, or post them on our SCM Safety Facebook page.