QUALITY SAFETY MANAGEMENT
A Never Ending Story
Quality and Safety: Partners in
It's important to think of safety as an important aspect of both product and process quality in the workplace. In this course, we'll address those concepts and principles that apply safety specifically to process safety.
Let's take a brief look at how product and process safety differ.
Product quality is elusive. The only way you know you have it is by asking those who define it: The customer.
All the company can do is to try hard to produce a product that fits the customer's definition of
quality. When the product is designed to prevent injury or illness, the customer will define the
product as safe. As we all know, customer perceptions about product safety are very important
these days. Unfortunately, some companies do not take safety into consideration when designing their products. Consequently they may unintentionally design unsafe or unhealthful features into their products.
Process quality and safety are very closely related. Process quality may be considered error-free work, and safety, as one element of process, can be thought of as injury-free work. When an injury occurs, the "event" increases the number of unnecessary and wasted steps in the production process. How does safety fit into the continuous quality improvement philosophy?
What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?
Total Quality Management is a strategic
approach to management that takes advantage of all corporate
resources to continually improve performance and processes so
that they may ultimately be error free. The result is a product
or service that greatly exceeds customer
The champions of Total Quality Safety Management
Dr. W. Edwards Deming is considered by most to be the father of Total Quality Safety Management. He was probably more responsible than any other person for Japan's meteoric rise in manufacturing. He believed that statistics hold the key to improving processes, and that
management must take responsibility for quality in the workplace because management controls the processes. This module will take a look at his 14 Points of Total Quality Safety Management as they relate to safety.
Joseph M. Juran was a contemporary of Deming, and a second great contributor to the success of Japan's management revolution of the 40's and 50's. He viewed quality problems as 80% the result of weaknesses in the management system and 20% attributable to workers. He would have, no doubt, the same opinion about the causes of workplace injuries and illness. Like Deming, he admonished managers to avoid campaigns and slogans to motivate the workforce to solve the company's quality problems. He favored the use of quality circles because they improved communications between management and labor, and would have surely improved of the idea of management-labor safety committees which have been established for the same purpose.
Philip B. Crosby, a quality expert, was responsible for quality for the Pershing missile project at Martin Corporation, was director of quality for ITT, and in 1979 formed Philip Crosby Associates. He defines quality as "Conformance to requirements, ...which can only be measured by the cost of nonconformance." He might consider safety as the "conformance to injury- and illness-free work practices, ... which can be measured only by average industry costs." Like Deming, he developed 14 steps to quality improvement.
You'll find more about each of these contributors to continuous quality improvement by reading the texts listed at the beginning of this module.
Deming's Fourteen Points Applied to Total Quality Safety
Deming's 14 Points form some of the most
important concepts and approaches to continuous quality
improvement philosophy. The focus of this module is to better
understand and apply each of Deming's 14 points to workplace
safety. So, let's examine what he says about quality, and how it
can be applied to safety.
Point 1. Create a constant purpose to improve the product and service, with the aim to be competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.
Deming spoke about the "problems of today and the problems of tomorrow," and that management in America today tends to focus only on today's problems when it should be placing increased, if not most emphasis on tomorrow's threats and opportunities to improve competitive position. Management should be focused constantly on improving the safety of materials, equipment, workplace environment, and work practices today so that it can remain successful tomorrow. The objective of continually working toward a safe and healthful workplace today, so that fewer injuries and illnesses occur in the future fits well with Deming's
constancy of purpose. If management
successfully communicates the clear, consistent message over the
years that workplace safety is a core value (as stated in the
mission statement), that there are "no excuses" for accidents,
the company can be successful in developing a world-class safety
culture. If a company considers safety only a priority that may
be changed when convenient, constancy of purpose is not
Point 2. Adopt a new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for a change.
We continually teach that management must step outside itself to reflect, to take a new look at what its purpose is, long term. Safety can never be understood or properly appreciated if only the short term view is taken by management. Quick fix programs to "impose" change will not work. Only understanding of the long term benefits will give management the vision to properly and consistently send and act on the message of workplace safety.
The old philosophy accepts as fact that a certain level of injury and illness will result from a given process, and that the associated costs should represent one of many costs of doing business.
The new safety philosophy strives to:
Prevent injuries and illnesses by continually analyzing and improving upstream factors such as work practices, equipment design, materials, and the workplace physical and cultural environment through education, training and recognition.
Improve product safety for the benefit of the customer.
Point 3. Cease dependence on mass inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
Deming was referring to the practice of inspecting every piece of product at the end of an assembly line to separate out the defects. Instead, he encouraged improving the quality of the process to decrease the defects, thus eliminating the need for mass inspection. When we apply this to safety, Deming might consider relying on the results (defects) as measuring our success solely by counting the number of accidents (also) that occur. No consideration is given to measuring employee and management-level safety activities.
In safety, evaluating only results statistics is like driving a car down the road and trying to stay in your lane by looking through a rear-view mirror. All you can do is react, after the fact. When we only analyze accident rates, we can only react to the number. Accident rates tell us nothing about why the accidents are happening. The old safety philosophy we discussed in above measures primarily injury and illness rates (defects) which represent the end results of the safety component of the process. Incident rates, accident rates, MOD rates, etc. all measure the end point, and since these measures are inherently not predictive, these statistics provide little useful information about the surface and root causes (upstream) for injuries and
The new philosophy emphasizes measurement along the entire production process, primarily:
Measurement of management/supervisor safety activities;
Employee safety education and training;
Individual worker behaviors; and
Materials and equipment design prior to purchase.
Point 4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize
total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of
Safe equipment, materials, chemicals may cost a little more but will save in the long-term through fewer
injuries and illnesses. Management should write safety specifications that meet their requirements into
contracts. Even today, manufacturers of equipment and machinery sell equipment that does not meet NEC,
NIOSH, ANSI, or other safety standards for product safety. Employers purchasing such equipment run
increased risk of injury and illness to their employers.
With respect to personal protective equipment (PPE), "cheap" is not better. Ensuring high quality personal
protective equipment is smart business when we realize that it's a profit-center activity. How's that? If you
spend $5,000 in various types of PPE in a given year and any one piece prevents a serious injury, your
company has just paid for all the PPE for that year and probably for many years into the future. The money
spent on PPE should be thought of as an investment that may result in substantial returns (reduced direct
and indirect accident costs) to the company. Unfortunately, many consider only the initial cost of PPE. They
don't see the big picture benefits.
Relying on a single supplier for safety equipment, such as personal protective equipment, may have many
benefits. Supplier representatives, calling on an employer over a period of years, will become familiar with
the particular safety equipment needs of the employer. The employer who establishes a long-term close
relationship with the supplier is more likely to receive the attention and higher quality equipment when
requested. Developing a close, cooperative partnership between the employer and the supplier of safety
equipment is extremely important for the success of both parties, and is possible by applying the single
Point 5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve
quality and productivity, and thus constantly
A system refers to a number of processes or procedures that have been standardized. Everyone does
something the same way. It's important to have an effective safety and health management system. What
safety process or procedure might be standardized to improve your company's safety and health
Jeffrey Castillo, CSP, states that "Traditionally, safety functions have been under the direction of the human
resource department, which places safety and health at odds with the organization's primary goals: to
produce and sell goods/services. Too often, managers in other departments feel the safety manager (alone)
should contain costs, solve safety problems via training or committees, and reduce injury costs. Yet, in most
cases, the safety manager must accomplish such tasks while other managers increase production goals."
Jeffrey E. Castillo, CSP, IHIT, "Safety Management: The Winds of Change." Professional Safety, Feb 95.
Management must integrate safety as an element of quality into operations so completely that it disappears
as a separate function. It must be viewed by each employee, supervisor and manager as his or her personal
responsibility; one that is important in not
only improving the production process, but in saving lives.
Point 6. Institute training on the job.
Some companies today consider training a cost, not a benefit. How many workers are properly educated and
trained in supervisory, management, and leadership principles as they move up the corporate ladder? Have
you ever been in a situation where the worker who "makes the most widgets" gets promoted? Does
management assume new supervisors and managers know what they're doing?
Currently many companies rely on the safety director or the human resources department to train safety.
The new employee receives a safety overview when hired, and a safety "expert," conducts more specific
training related to the employee's job exercise. The supervisor, in many instances, does not think he or she
is getting paid to train safety. But, who is better suited to do the training than the person responsible for the
safety and health of his or her employees? If the supervisor cannot train safety, how can he or she have the
knowledge to effectively oversee safe work practices? How can the supervisor provide effective safety
feedback? How can the supervisor, when needed, properly enforce safety rules?
The supervisor cannot perform any of these responsibilities unless he or she thoroughly understands safety
concepts and principles, the hazards in the workplace, and is competent to train those subjects specifically
related to workplace he or she controls. The human resources department or the safety director can't provide
that quality of training for a couple of
reasons: They don't work in the area, and they're "not the
Point 7. Adopt and institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
The key to adopting and instituting leadership, of course, lies at the top. Management needs to lead by
example, action, and word. The leader "cares" about those he or she leads. After all, the leader's success is
tied to the success of his or her workers. The "servant leadership" model fits well into the ideas expressed by
Deming and others.
There is no better way to demonstrate these principles of leadership than in making sure employees use safe
work procedures in a workplace that is, itself, safe from hazards. Ensuring safety is one of the most visible
undertakings that management can take to show employees that they are not merely hired hands who can
be replaced, but are valued human
resources...part of the family.
Point 8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
Driving out fear is the most important requirement when implementing a Total Quality Safety Management
process. You must begin here. Management controls the workplace. It influences the standards of behavior
and performance of its employees by creating cultural norms in the workplace that dictate what are, and are
not acceptable behaviors. Management may rely solely on safety rules and progressive discipline (negative
reinforcement) in their attempt to control the safety behavior and performance of its employees. However, a
strategy such as this, that may be successful in forcing compliance, is never successful in producing
excellence in product or process. Strategies using fear and control are rarely, if ever successful. What
develops from such a strategy is a controlling, compliance driven climate of mistrust and disgust; only a shell
of an effective safety and health management system.
In the TQM system, managers and supervisors drive out fear through a real commitment to fact-finding to
improve the system, not fault-finding to punish someone. They emphasize uncovering the weaknesses in the
system that have allowed unsafe work practices and hazardous conditions to exist. They educate and train
everyone so that those weaknesses are strengthened, thus helping to continually improve the production
process. They recognize employees for appropriate safety behaviors; compliance with safety rules, reporting
injuries immediately, and reporting hazards in the workplace. Trust increases. Morale and motivation
improve because employees are not afraid to report safety concerns to management. Safety is never a
complaint in a TQM
Point 9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and
production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be
encountered with the product or
We should only compete with our competitors, not ourselves. Internal cooperation and external competition
applies to safety as well. Cooperation among all internal functions is another key to effective safety.
Competitive safety incentive programs. Reactive safety incentive programs that challenge departments
to compete against each other for rewards set up a system that may promote illegal behaviors by creating
situations where peer pressure causes the withholding of injury reports. Consequently, the "walking wounded
syndrome" develops that eventually results in increased injury costs and workers compensation premiums.
The performance of one employee impacts the success of others in the department. Employees will do
virtually anything, in some cases, to ensure the department gets their pizza parties, saving bonds, or safety
mugs. The fix: Reward/recognize employees individually for appropriate behaviors: complying with safety
rules, reporting injuries and reporting workplace hazards. Reward activities that enhance cooperation.
Bringing management and labor together. Cooperation at all levels of the company to identify and
correct hazards is very important. Of course, the process designed to promote this kind of cooperation is
called the safety committee (or safety improvement team). A world-class safety system will take advantage
of the cross-functional makeup of safety committees to bring management and employees together in a nonadversarial
forum to evaluate programs and make
recommendations for improvement in workplace
Point 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero
defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial
relationships, as the bulk of the causes of
low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus
lie beyond the power of the work
What! Zero defects is not an appropriate goal? Does that apply to safety too? Remember, Deming is talking
about product defects here. The related safety goal might be "zero accidents." Although this goal may be
unachievable, it's the only morally appropriate goal to have because we are dealing with injuries and
fatalities. If we set a goal of anything less than zero accidents, what's going to happen? If we reach the goal,
we pat ourselves on our collective back, sit back with our feet up on the desk, and believe we "have arrived."
When this occurs, you can bet your accident rate will start rising once again. Contentment is a dangerous
condition in safety. If we set zero accidents as our goal, we may never reach it, but that's fine. We should
never be content anyway. We should always be frustrated...never satisfied to make sure we continually
improve the system.
If we set a goal to reduce accidents by 50%, we will design a less effective system to get us to the goal, but
no farther. If we set a zero-accident goal, we will design the more effective system to reach that goal.
On another line of thought: In safety, the "happy poster syndrome" is a common occurrence. Managers think
that by placing a safety poster every thirty feet on a wall, they have a successful safety awareness program.
Employees, for the most part, ignore the posters, and may not believe the message that management is
trying to convey. The Fix: Get rid of the posters and meaningless slogans. Replace them with action,
example, and word. Each supervisor and
manager becomes a walking safety slogan.
Point 11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce, and eliminate management by objectives. Eliminate numerical goals for people in management. Substitute leadership.
According to Krause, in the safety field, many reward systems and performance appraisals are based on
numerical goals and measures, such as incident rates, that are untested for random variability....this could
mean receiving an undeserved bad performance rating...On the other hand, ignorance of the concept of
random variability also means that work groups often get good safety ratings when they do not deserve
The problem with measuring the success of a company's safety effort using incident rates is that once the
rate has been reduced to what management feels is an acceptable level, complacency sets in, the effort to
reduce incident rates relaxes, and incident rates begin the inevitable rise to previous unacceptable levels.
Management reacts to the increase in incident rate with a renewed safety emphasis. This reactive
management approach to loss control, based on end results (defects), creates an endless cycle of rising and
falling incident rates.
Deming would look upon such a situation with dissatisfaction (and wonder). He would probably encourage
management to do away with any numerical quotas or goals based solely on unpredictable measures such as
incident frequency rates. He would stress the need measure upstream activities such as the degree of safety
education and training, number of safety meetings, individual safe work behaviors, and the safety of
materials, chemicals, and equipment purchased by the company.
In emphasizing TQM principles, the company may never realize sustained zero accident rates, but the
critically important ingredient in a successful process, that of continually journeying closer to that end state
would be realized. Focus on the journey, not the result.
Relying solely on quotas in the "production" system results in management looking the other way, when
unsafe work practices, and hazardous conditions exist. A macho (it is part of the job) attitude by
management, under pressure to produce the numbers, results in higher rates of injury and illness. Very little
thought is given to the human tragedy involved with serious injuries or fatalities. Even less thought to the
indirect and 'unknown and unknowable' losses to the company. Management must understand the danger of
pressure ever-increasing quotas place on supervisors and employees. Short cuts in work practices are
inevitable, and along with them, injuries and illnesses.
Remember, managers and employees should be held accountable only for what they can control. It's difficult
to control statistical results. However, as
we learned earlier, they can control
Point 12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship.
According to Deming, the responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship.
Abolish the annual merit rating and adopt continual feedback processes. Deming offers some interesting
ideas here, but they are crucial to success in safety as well as production.
Supervisors must ensure their workers receive equipment and materials that are as safe as possible.
Employees should work at stations that have been ergonomically designed for them to decrease the
possibility of strains and sprains, and repetitive motions disease which represent the greatest category of
workplace injury and illness in the workforce today. Workers require and deserve the highest quality personal
protective equipment to protect them from workplace hazards. The highest quality safety equipment,
materials and environment all contribute to
pride of workmanship.
Point 13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
Continual learning is an important concept. It's important that employees be educated in personal and
professional skills. Safety certainly applies here as well. Return on the investment made in education is well
worth the money.
Weekly or monthly safety education and training sessions, when conducted properly by supervisors, can go
far in improving the performance of employees, and would send a strong message to all that safety is a core
value in the company. Unfortunately, most companies do not see the wisdom in adopting the principle that
to be successful today, each manager and employee in the company must be continually learning. Currently,
most employees receive very little safety
training, internal or external, on safety related
Point 14. Take action to accomplish the transformation.
Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's
job. What a concept! Put everybody to work to accomplish the transformation. How can we do this when it
comes to safety and health?
Here's the hard part. Someone must have the vision: If not top management, who? How do you shift
responsibility for safety from the safety director and/or safety committee to line management? If the effort
does not have the blessing of the CEO (with action), the transformation may never be successful. The safety
committee may serve as the catalyst to initially begin the planning for the transformation. Expanding the size
of the committee, then breaking it into "safety teams" specializing in various process functions in the
company might be a way to go. However, educating up is crucial if top management balks at the need for
the transformation. The safety committee must provide the education (usual data... sorted... objective...
bottom line) to influence the perceptions
that ultimately shape the transformation. Uphill all the
Taking on the goals of TQSM is not an easy task. If you decide to begin the TQSM journey, be sure to
continue your study of the concepts. Go slowly and don't expect big changes overnight. Ultimately, you are
attempting to change culture and that process can and probably will take years.
Reference: Steve Geigle (my mentor and friend)