Creating A Strong Safety Culture Using “L8MM”

Monday, Jan. 20th 2014

This past October I had the good fortune to be the conference chair and speaker at the 2nd Annual HSSE Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It was a great opportunity to learn and to hear from many good speakers, most of whom I not only had never heard speak.  Over the coming months I will share some of the knowledge I picked up from this excellent conference.

L8MM – “Last 8 Minute Meeting”

We’ve heard it over and over again that trust and good communication are two important building blocks of a strong safety culture.  At this conference in Kuala Lumpur I learned about a great way to do both at the same time.  It’s called the “Last 8 Minute Meeting”.  Rockyonto (Rocky) Sasabone, the QSHE Manager for the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) discussed the L8MM concept and how it has had a remarkable impact on safety performance.

At CNOOC they have many tools for safety including extensive worker safety training and initiatives focused on behavior like STOP. Take Two, JSAs, Permits, and others.  However, they were having service problems on the drilling platforms related to planning, execution and completion.  Because of the overall service issues, safety wasn’t taken as seriously as it needed to be.  As they began to focus on the service and safety problems they found that there was poor communication between the supervisors and shift workers.  In particular, the safety actions and precautions that they thought were in place often lapsed and with poor communication this problem was going undetected.  Problems from day-to-day were not being reported or shared.  Obviously, this was setting up latent conditions and practices that soon could lead to a serious incident or failure.

The culture didn’t encourage workers to report problems.  Everyone was tired at the end of the shift and needed rest, and reporting was extra work.  It had become a culture that encourage s attitudes like “I’m better off being quiet” or “I’ll report it later”.  Rocky decided that CNOOC needed a way to encourage reporting, especially at the end of the shift, and a way for supervisors to take action before problems became worse.  They really needed a tool for shift to shift, day-to-day problem identification and sharing.  He decided to have each crew on each shift hold a short 8 minute meeting at the end of work where problems could be discussed, the STOP cards collected and discussed, behavioral issues reviewed and causes explored, and any unsafe conditions or equipment issues brought forward for correction on the next shift.

Having the short  L8MM every day at the end of the shift encouraged positive 2-way communication.  It demonstrated CNOOC’s safety values and the importance of teamwork, and it built a culture that encouraged safety inspections, unsafe conditions reporting, peer and supervisory observations and coaching, corrective and preventative action, and most of all positive communication.  Supervisors worked together to evaluate the STOP cards and other reported items and established priority.  Medium and high risk issues were taken to more senior management for immediate action and capital.  As the workers saw a change in communication and the CNOOC value for safety,  the tolerance for unsafe conditions and the number of incidents of behavioral related issues decreased.  Over time CNOOC had created a much improved safety culture, and a feeling and understanding of each other as part of a family.  Now safety really means something to everybody.

According to Rocky, the L8MM concept was so successful it has been expanded to all offshore oil and gas rig service teams and beyond.  It’s amazing how one good idea for improving communication can have such a broad and positive impact on safety.  What’s your idea for building a stronger safety culture?  Please comment and share.  Thanks.

Improve Your GHS Training – 8 Tips That Really Work

Friday, Sep. 27th 2013

GHS Questions – Questions – Questions!

At CLMI we have had hundreds of questions about GHS compliance these past several months, especially leading up to the December 1, 2013 deadline to provide GHS training. As one of the first SH&E professionals to create Right to Know / Haz Com training and compliance materials and provide training services, there aren’t many questions I haven’t had to answer. Most of the questions we are getting now revolve around the content of the GHS training for workers or how OSHA might enforce the new Standard. So I want to take a few minutes to explain some of the key elements of the revised OSHA Hazard Communication standard adopting the Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. And then share a few training tips I’ve learned and practiced while training thousands of workers on Haz Com and now GHS.

First, with the GHS revisions you do not have to completely redo all of your Haz Com training. You do not have to reeducate workers about the Haz Com Standard and how to access information, nor retrain workers on the hazards of the chemicals they face, how to protect themselves, how to react in an emergency, etc. The training that you now have to provide must focus on the new GHS Labeling System and the revised Safety Data Sheet format.

Second, I have a feeling that OSHA is going to enforce the new GHS provisions a bit differently than before. On OSHA’s website under Hazard Communication, the say “The standard that gave workers the right to know, now gives them the right to understand.” I have heard Dr. David Michael say that the current Haz Com standard was about providing information and did little to verify that workers knew how to read and interpret this information. It seems that under new guidance OSHA Compliance Officers are going to be looking at the training provided and how learning was verified, and then check for understanding by talking with a sample of workers from different parts of the company. This could be problematic for those employers who follow the “plug and play” or “take the online course” and get back to work approach.

Tips for GHS Training Success

1. Choose the best training materials you can find. By this I mean make sure that the information is presented clearly and completely in any video, online course, PowerPoint, or other media. Be sure to check for accuracy and whether you notice any overly technical information that may confuse learners. Also, ask yourself whether you would find the training materials interesting and informative. You have many choices, so choose what’s best for your needs.

2. Make sure that the training about the GHS Labeling System is separated from that on Safety Data Sheets. When a person is introduced to the GHS labeling system it takes a while to comprehend and differentiate each pictogram and then understand the variety of detailed warning information that will accompany each one. It is like learning a new language; since the pictograms and many of the hazard categories and terms will be new, being able to quickly identify and explain them with accuracy will take practice.

3. Focus on helping individual workers learn the specific pictograms and hazard warning statements that apply to them, the chemicals they use and the work they do. After all, that is what really matters. The others pictograms must also be learned, but as Steven Covey wrote, “first things first”.

4. Consider adult learning principles, so try to make the training interesting and fun. Spice up the training experience. One way is to award little prizes, like candy or fruit for correct answers. Some trainers will use GHS flash cards to help workers learn. Some will create GHS bingo or other rapid response and association games. Anything that will increase interest and participation should be considered.

5. Remember that GHS is new and will take time and repetition to learn, so be sure to have follow up discussion and reenforcement activities built into the training plan. Don’t rely on the DVD or online course to do all the teaching! Use posters, booklets, handcards, and other props. Create short tool box talks about the pictograms, or a series of reminders in the company newsletter or employee website.

6. Teaching about the new Safety Data Sheet format is not as complicated. To help workers learn the new categories or sections provide a learning exercise that requires them go through a sample SDS to find specific information. Have them do this a few times, varying the information they need to find.

7. To reinforce the full Haz Com training that was provided earlier, build a bridge between that and the new GHS system. One idea involves a work group or team setting. Provide each person the specific SDSs for the chemicals to which they may be exposed. Then, ask each worker on the team to find a piece of information about one of the chemicals from one of the SDSs and share it. Pick the most important information based on the hazards of the various chemicals; like for a material that is highly flammable ask for information on how to control the fire hazard and what to do in an emergency. This activity help reinforce previously learned information and teaches how to read and interpret information from the new SDS format.

8. Follow up several months later with short group activities, like having the workers go through a quick recognition exercise. If they are good at remembering what the pictograms are and how to protect themselves, they understand. If not, it tells you that your training fell short and that more follow-up is required.

I hope these tips are helpful and will increase learning and understanding. Afterall, it is all about the level of comprehension and understanding by each individual worker that most important. This time around it appears that OSHA wants a higher level of learning to take place, and that’s OK if you know what and how to get to that level. Please let me know if these tips were helpful, and don’t hesitate to contact any of us at CLMI if you have any more questions. Successful training!

Why Does Some Online Training Fail?

Wednesday, Jan. 30th 2013

The answer is really quite simple. The expectations of what can be accomplished with online training are out of alignment with reality. Oh, now that sounds brilliant! Let me explain.
In the past, safety training was most often delivered in an instructor lead format, whereby the information was delivered by an informed person and in an interactive format. Ideally, the instructor designed the course with learning objectives and delivered the content in a fashion that helped the employees learn. During the course, there would be checking questions, and at the end some sort of learning exercise was administered. The instructor was able to validate that learning took place and that the objectives were met. If not, they could provide additional help where needed.
Unfortunately, this isn’t and wasn’t the real world. In most situations safety training does not receive the planning necessary to make sure the course is delivered in a quality fashion. Time is often the overriding issue, though knowledge of the subject may also get in the way. For more than 10 years, and now since the “great recession”, safety professionals and anyone involved with safety training is being asked to do much more with no more time in which to do it. All too often this results in scheduling training, but not really doing any meaningful planning until the last-minute. Then, that planning involves finding the video, making changes to the PowerPoint, and making copies and handout and quizzes. Where is the time to think through discussion points and how to make the training interesting with games or other activities? You guessed it.
So now along comes online training. Wow. You can load the employee names and other information into a learning management system, assign courses and due dates, and then sit back and shift the responsibility for training to those being trained. How cool is that?! In many cases that I’ve witnessed that’s exactly what’s done. The result is very predictable.
Online training fails because you can’t shift the responsibility for learning to the employees. You can, but it isn’t going to work. Oh we can make sure they took the necessary courses that were assigned, when they were to be completed. And we can measure whether they passed the course, but did they learn anything? Were any of the learning objectives achieved? (what learning objectives?) How well was the information retained? And most important, are they following what was taught a week later, or can they react properly in an emergency situation?
Online training can actually increase retention of information and everyone take the same course so there is significant uniformity. From a compliance viewpoint, the retention factor and uniformity features, coupled with the record keeping offered through a learning management system can make the use of online training great. However, if it doesn’t improve safety it’s worthless.
So what can you do to make online training more successful? Think of all the benefits of uniformity and assurance that everyone has taken the training and passed a test. Then, go back to the basics. Provide some discussion points for the supervisors to use in short safety talks. Ask employees to fill out a short description of what they learned. Develop emergency drills that measure how well employees react in an adverse situation. Create a game that you can play one on one to see how people react and how much they learned. Observe how everyone follows the safety procedures and tie it back to the training.
Those who are most successful with the implementation of online training have taken the same approach as those who still use the instructor lead method. They established learning objectives, delivered the main learning content online verses by verbal instruction, figured out the best way to engage the employees and help with learning, and then doubled back to see if the training made any difference. I think that if you follow these simple guidelines your online training will succeed and you will find much better safety results.