The First Steps Toward Productivity, Quality and Safety

by Charles T Wilson on April 7, 2014

Many business people don’t quickly and easily connect the three areas mentioned in the Tip title.  How often do you see that?

In simple terms, Productivity is “on time, on budget” and enhancing the bottom line profits of the firm.  Quality is producing products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations.  And Safety is preventing injuries to both workers and the public who may be impacted by any operation or vehicle of the company.

As Rodney Grieve says in Defend Your Profits: Safety Tools for Bottom Line Improvements, senior management must communicate the Productivity and Safety messages at the same time and as one, unified concept.  If not, these two easily become polar opposites:  the first becomes just “profits” and the second slides down the list of what is important.  When a line supervisor says, “We gotta get this done pronto,” Safety (or Quality) – for the average employee – goes out the window.

Responsibility

The first step in effective Safety is showing who is responsible for the plan and can make updates and listen to suggestions (see Safety Program, the first Tip of this series).  This person is often supplemented by managers and supervisors who are also responsible.  These people are identified in the plan and must walk the talk – and do more walking than talking!  Employees can also be identified as responsible for reporting safety lapses or their concerns.

At a commercial yard where some noisy, dusty work was being done I noticed the employees nearby were not wearing their protective gear.  Then I saw some top management folks walking out through the yard without protective gear either.  I asked for a special management meeting to give my strong opinion.  Fortunately, they got it immediately and one of them volunteered to be “the champion” and help everyone comply with safety policies.

Compliance

This is the second section of the plan and reinforces that everyone follows the rules and watches out for each other, training is encouraged and safe actions are recognized.  Supervisors often need training to understand the goals, apply the rules fairly, and use progressive discipline.

The key is the critical connection between Productivity and Safety mentioned above.  First, employees need understand the business: where do revenues come from, and what expenses are paid – including the costs of losses due to injuries and lawsuits.  The bottom line is their jobs depend on great safety results.  If they don’t get this concept, it won’t work. 

I once noticed the safety manager in the shop without the required safety glasses and hard hat.  No employee said a thing – of course, this was top management.  I related to the manager later that one of the most effective ways to engender teamwork at all levels is to be the first to ask others, “Please tell me if/when I’m doing something wrong so I can correct it and go home with all my parts.”  Once that happened, others started asking for the same “watchdog” approach from teammates. Incidents and accidents decreased and teamwork soared.

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Safety and the Bottom Line

by Charles T Wilson on March 11, 2014

In the past three to five years I’ve become painfully aware how fundamental safety is to risk management and to business owners’ bottom line.

I’ve seen workers’ compensation “experience mod” rates soar with: a couple of nasty – but preventable – worker injuries; a shoulder “strain” that morphed into surgery and 9 months of rehab; a lost finger in a saw with a new OSHA-mandated guard; a worker crushed in a baling machine when “just” removing some snagged cardboard.

Costs can skyrocket ~

Not only can Workers’ Comp insurance premiums increase – sometimes dramatically, but some liability insurers will also increase premiums when they become aware of “sloppy” or unexplained WC losses. Business executives can become bogged down in OSHA inspections, recommendations, fines and penalties and sometimes shutdowns.  Some of your customers – especially in construction – can impose restrictions on your work rules or even ban you from the job site.  And all that is before lawsuits, time-consuming discovery and costly, and perhaps uncovered, legal expenses.

How can you protect yourself?  

A Safety Program (Injury and Illness Protection Plan or IIPP in California) provides significant benefits.  It can be simple, but it’s not fool-proof.  It must engage all workers and have unquestioned management commitment.

Here are the eight key sections of any safety plan (from a model IIPP):

  1. Who’s Responsible for safety and this plan, improvements, etc.
  2. What Compliance is expected
  3. How to Communicate
  4. What Hazards exist in the workplace
  5. What Corrective Action has been implemented for these known hazards
  6. What is the process for Accident and Incident Investigation
  7. What Training is required
  8. What Documentation and Recordkeeping must be done

Moving forward ~

Over the next several months RiskSmart Tips will review these eight sections with both details and stories or examples.  Please join the conversation and share your comments [ezine: on the blog site] [blog: below] about your experiences and ideas.

Call (510-685-3883) or email (charles@risksmartsolutions.com) to discuss any time-sensitive concerns.  There’s never any cost or obligation for a discussion! 

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Can You Make Cents of it All? Minimum Wages 2014 and Beyond

February 10, 2014

Federal, State and County laws throughout the US have varying minimum wages and they are changing at a more frequent rate than ever. Some studies indicate an increase will stimulate local economies and put less stress on social services; and yet other groups predict an exodus of businesses from the highest wage areas. While we […]

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2014 Risk and Protection Checklist

January 12, 2014

As you organize your priorities for the New Year, here are 7 key Risk and Protection reminders for your checklist.  Many of these we know are important, yet they’re often not immediately urgent so they fall to the bottom of the pile.  An annual schedule for these updates on your calendar can be effective in […]

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Can Your Business Run Without You?

December 9, 2013

While Charles continues his recovery, RiskSmart Tips would like to thank several colleagues for volunteering to contribute their professional views, particularly in the areas of avoiding, planning for, and managing business risk.  This month’s tip has been authored by Mike Van Horn of The Business Group. Can Your Business Run Without You? If all decisions […]

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Managing Your IT Risk

November 11, 2013

Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2013 lists small businesses as the target of 31% of all cyber attacks in 2012, up from 18% in 2011. “While it can be argued that the rewards of attacking a small business are less than what can be gained from a large enterprise, this is more than compensated by […]

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The Checklist

October 7, 2013

While Charles continues his recovery, RiskSmart Tips would like to thank several colleagues for volunteering to contribute their professional views, particularly in the areas of avoiding, planning for, and managing a crisis.  This month’s tip has been authored by Bart Gragg, founder of Blue Collar University®. Several years ago Charles introduced me to the bestselling […]

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The Extreme Case, and The Consequences

September 10, 2013

My name is Patrick Wilson; I am Charles’ son and am contributing this month’s blog. On July 25, my parents returned from a trip to visit family in New York State and Canada.  The next day was Friday, and my father found himself suffering from flu-like symptoms, including a headache, fatigue, and high fever.  By […]

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Fast Growth Can Be Risky Business

July 8, 2013

Many business people envy the companies that are on the “100 Fastest Growing” lists.  The risk manager says, “Be careful what you wish for.”  Sometimes what looks good from the outside can be a painful problem on the inside. What happens when you grow too fast? Mike Van Horn, President of The Business Group (businessownerstoolbox.com), […]

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The Fastest Way to Improved Productivity

June 11, 2013

What’s the fastest way to improve business productivity?  Lots of organizations struggle to just set basic priorities, get things done on time/on budget, and keep everyone focused and safe on the job.    There’s so much “noise” in today’s business world it’s hard to know who’s on first – with internet orders, marketing key words, employee […]

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Exit Checklist

May 7, 2013

“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up someplace else.” ~Yogi Berra Isn’t planning great?  Some folks seem to spend their time writing stuff down and never really doing anything.  While others write what they just did on a To Do list so they can cross it off.  Yogi’s quote above is […]

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Exit Stage Right

April 9, 2013

The last RiskSmart Tip was about Transitions   – the ones you or your business could experience whether you plan for them or not! This Tip will provide an initial Checklist to help you get started on a graceful exit.  It can’t cover everything: it’s intended as a starting point.  Your primary goal is to […]

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Transitions: Good News – Bad News

March 12, 2013

Good news might be when your MD says you’re as strong as a horse and you’ll live at least another 20 years!  The bad news is now you can’t avoid completing the Transition Plan for your business, rather than just slipping out the back door! Planning of any kind is a struggle for many.  Some […]

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Howdy Partner – Friend or Foe

February 12, 2013

I remember what is probably an apocryphal story about the Lone Ranger and his sidekick, Tonto riding over the ridge to face a large band of hostile Indians.  The Lone Ranger says, “I think we’re in some big trouble here, Tonto.”  And Tonto replies, “What you mean ‘we’ Kemosabe?”   Oops – friend or foe? Partnerships […]

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Annual Risk and Protection Checklist

January 8, 2013

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know.  It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.  ~ Mark Twain As you organize your priorities for the New Year, here are 7 key Risk and Protection reminders for your checklist.  Many of these we know are important , yet they’re often […]

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Disasters – 10 Ways to Be Prepared

December 11, 2012

Quote:  Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.  ~ Abraham Lincoln   Title: Disasters – 10 Ways to Be Prepared   “Disasters” for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) can arise from many sources and come in all shapes and sizes.  Many studies report that 60% […]

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Annual Insurance Budget Alert

November 27, 2012

Many businesses and not-for-profit organizations want to plan for next year’s revenues and expenses.  For many, insurance premiums can have a major impact and may require adjusted pricing on products and services in 2013. RiskSmart Solutions has polled a number of California brokers for their best estimates and I’m pleased to provide these for your […]

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Annual Cold Weather Alert

November 20, 2012

Winter’s fast approaching – or already here – in many parts of the US.  Even the San Francisco Bay Area may experience some record lows over the next few weeks.  Is your business or home at risk? Consider extra protection for your exterior sprinkler valves, water pipes, faucets and hoses. Sprinkler valves need special jackets […]

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Time Change and Smoke Alarms

November 16, 2012

While many people have hard-wired smoke detectors as part of their home alarm systems, they often supplement that system with battery-powered extra units. Residential smoke alarms need to be on every level and are recommended in every bedroom – especially if doors get closed. Experts say to change your 9-volt batteries at least once a […]

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Saftey and First Aid Equal a Winning Strategy

October 9, 2012

Workers sometimes joke – particularly within earshot of a Safety person – that, “Safety comes third – first there’s lunch, then break!” At least they’re thinking about it! Safety = good investment ~ From a business perspective, safety is a good investment. Every safety professional will tell you it costs $6-10 to fix the accident […]

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Insurance Premium Audits

September 11, 2012

Many business insurance policies are subject to audit by the insurance company.  Initial premiums are calculated from revenue, payroll or other estimates. These estimates can change and, no surprise, the insurer wants more premium! What can go wrong? Revenue and payroll estimates can go up or down. While they’ll want additional premium for “up,” you’ll […]

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Certificates Not Always Certain

August 7, 2012

Certificates of Insurance and Additional Insured (AI) endorsements are usually a “best practice” whenever you hire subcontractors and certain suppliers and vendors.  Many businesses don’t understand the pitfalls of getting this right. Remember that insurance is the other side’s financial back-stop to indemnify you for losses due to their negligence or contractual responsibilities. Certificates and […]

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Advisors You Can Rely On

July 11, 2012

Last month’s Tip discussed the need for risk management in addition to an organization’s insurance broker.  What other “experts” do you depend on?  In today’s economy, with increased outsourcing, the list, and the risks, can be huge. Many businesses need – attorneys with various specialties, CPA/tax advisors and perhaps a bookkeeper, bankers, financial/investment planners, Human […]

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Why You Need a Risk Manager

June 13, 2012

Many mid-size organizations depend on just an insurance broker for their entire Risk Protection Program.  Today’s world is marked by increasing business complexity and insurance coverage restrictions.  Should we be surprised that execs still get blindsided by claims and lawsuits that aren’t covered by their insurance? Typically, larger firms have in-house risk managers for broad, […]

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Difference Between Business Expense and Investment

May 7, 2012

It’s easy in a rough economy to misunderstand the difference between a business expense and an investment.  They both look like the same cash out the door!  Unfortunately, when expense cuts are across the board, the law of unintended consequences can rear its ugly head. Short-sighted ~ I remember my employer, a major insurance organization, […]

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Take Care of Important Business First

March 29, 2012

Here’s a not-so-successful story about Risk Management.  It’s sad, and I wish I could have done more to prevent it. I was working with a start-up client to get a new Employee Benefits Program up and running.  We were in the “final” stages for several months:  there were just a couple basic decisions to make, […]

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Risk Profiles Save Money

March 4, 2012

Do duct tape and plastic sheeting form the cornerstone of your business security and protection plan?  Were things ever that simple?  Here’s the real question:  How do you handle the high costs of insurance premiums? If you take a common-sense approach to risk management, you can significantly reduce your risks, minimize your potential losses and […]

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Warning – Hard Insurance Market Ahead

February 8, 2012

The insurance market has been “soft” for a long time.  Renewals with lower costs now seem normal, and you may have gotten better coverage too, if your broker was paying attention.  Clients and RiskSmart Tips subscribers know this is not a forever thing.  Inside information and preparation can save you a lot of hassle – […]

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2012 Risk Protection Checklist

January 17, 2012

As you organize your priorities for the New Year here are 7 key Risk and Protection reminders for your checklist. Many of these we know are important, yet they’re often not immediately urgent and so they fall to the bottom of the pile. An annual schedule and planning can be effective in avoiding that last […]

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