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Q&A: Making Safety Personal at the Port of Corpus Christi Authority

June 6, 2017

pocca-q&a.pngOn June 1st, 2017, we held a safety webinar: Making Safety Personal at the Port of Corpus Christ Authority: A Case Study. By the end of the webinar, we had plenty of great questions and comments. However, we ran out of time before being able to answer all of them. We took note of all of the questions received, and answered them down below. 

1) What qualifies as award points for your incentive program?

Angela: Our incentives are safety related gear (i.e. auto hazard kits, home fire extinguishers, first aid kits, flashlights, gloves, cooler chest, mugs, cooling rags, apparel, leatherman, hand-crank radios, etc.) with our safety logo on it. The 'award points' are basically participation points. You'll receive a point if you:

  • Submit a quality near miss

  • Submit a quality safety suggestion

  • Participate in a JSA in any capacity

  • Participate in a peer observation in any capacity

  • Receive an On-the-Spot recognition

2) Discuss overcoming complacency or peer pressure (i.e. "I don't want to rock the boat").

Angela: Executive management instituting consistent standards followed with an audit, corrective actions and continuous improvement process that promotes and utilizes cross-functional, multidisciplinary group participation.

Esteban: I would just add that in order to overcome this, you need good communication about "WHY" a change is important and what the consequences are of not acting or implementing the change. We have to help people understand that just because we've been doing something a certain way for 20 years, it doesn't mean it's the best, or safetest way to do it. That is where leader behaviors such as Laying our a Vision and helping people to Embrace Change are really important.

3) Can people move between the leadership styles or are they basically always going to be what they are?

Esteban: While people will always have a preferred, natural leadership style that they default to a lot of the time, research shows that you can in fact "switch" leadership styles fairly easily depending on the situation. In other words, in certain situations, you can be more transactional vs. relational when you need to, or be more hands-off (Overseer), etc. Once you are aware of your natural style and are trained/coached on how to exhibit other styles, leaders are better able to switch effectively based on the situation. So to answer the question, you are not bound to only one style your whole life as a leader. You will simply have one that is more natural but with insight and behavioral change efforts, you can learn how to switch easily in different situations and use situational leadership.

4) Have you worked with companies in unionized environments?

Esteban: Yes, we have worked in many unionized environments. This includes projects where we have trained and coached safety leadership and hourly-level employees on personal SafetyDNA. We have also done hundreds of implementations in union environments where we put in pre-employment and hiring systems (using different types of assessments than what was discussed on the webinar) that included a safety component. These have been in various industries such as manufacturing (auto, pharma, heavy equipment), petrochemical and construction, as well as other industries. The biggest take-away for us has been that in a union environment, if you want to be successful with these types of initiatives, you must have excellent up-front and honest communication, and invite union leadership to the table and ensure them that the purpose is simply to help improve everyone's safety. Unions usually share that objective, making it easier to work together for the common goal of helping everyone prevent injuries.

5) Can you provide more insight into the safety climate survey? How many questions, participation rates of employees, etc.?

Esteban: The safety climate survey consists of about 35 questions. It is anonymous and voluntary, and administered online. For the project with Port of Corpus Christi Authority, we had about 86% (185 ee's across the company, including leaders) response rate, which is excellent by most standards. This was a very consistent participation rate when you looked across their levels and position/department categories across the organization. When we work with companies, we usually find high rates such as this, which is ideal, in order to get a good representative sample of the company.

6) You talked about the process for developing current employees, can you also put new employees through this program?

Esteban: Absolutely, and the Port Authority is doing that now. It is designed so that job experience and tenure are not factors, so anyone can greatly benefit from it. The whole process is about one's psychological traits and abilities as they are related to safety. Since it's not technical or industry-specific at all, new employees get just as much out of it as seasoned folks. It also makes a great addition to an organization's orientation/onboarding process, and sends a message to new employees that the company really takes safety seriously and invests in their people's safety early on.

7) What other industries have you worked with and have you seen similar results?

Esteban: Yes, several. We have done this program and seen similar (or better) safety performance results with:

  • Various types of manufacturing sectors

  • Construction, engineering and site maintenance services

  • Warehouse/Distribution Centers

  • Rail/Locomotive

  • Power/Utilities

8) Can any of these assessments/tests be used for pre-employment?

Esteban: The actual answer, technically, is "yes" because they have been validated and are job relevant. However, we deliberately have chosen to not use those specific SafetyDNA/SafetyDNA for Leaders assessments for pre-employment for a few different reasons:

  • We have other safety-based assessments that are specifically designed to be used as a pre-hire tool, and their reports are designed for that

  • These assessments are better suited for pre-employment because they not only measure safety, but also various other things you want in a new hire such as turnover, risk, work ethic, attitude, problem-solving, ability, etc. 

Follow the link below to view a recording of the webinar:

making safety personal

Shawn Wilhelm Shawn Wilhelm is the Healthcare and Leadership Marketing Coordinator at PSI.