Lessons from 9/11: How Systems Fail and People Rise to the Occasion

9/11 is more than just a traumatic scar on our memories. It is also a reminder of how systems lacking due care and preparation can fail in a crisis, and of how human beings with training and empathy can shine a powerful light into the darkness to bring aid to those who need it most. 

For those of us of a certain vintage, it’s hard to believe that 9/11 was twenty years ago. Watching footage of the events of that day brings back memories so vivid that it feels as though we’re experiencing them again for the first time. 9/11 is a scar on our collective consciousness. For those who lost someone in the attacks, it is a trauma that will never completely heal. 

It’s striking that the way we refer to that event—“9/11”—demonstrates an intriguing way we think about time in relation to cataclysmic disasters. “9/11” represents a day, a twenty-four-hour … Read more...

The Principle-Based Safety Culture

Creating a workplace that is striving to achieve and sustain safety performance success begins with one critical question: Is safety your organization’s principal value?

Achieving safety and health success is measured in various ways and with an ample set of metrics that quantify and qualify success. However, I would venture a guess that most organizations still look to a specific number of measures to define overall success: Metrics that measure loss, the time between failure, the duration of loss and the severity of the loss.

The reality is, most organizations still want to understand that loss and its severity are improving with time, and that’s okay. Yes, I said it: it’s okay.

Creating a workplace that is striving to achieve and sustain safety performance success begins with one critical question: Is safety a core value or better yet, is it the organization’s principal value? To define it in terms of … Read more...

Safety First: Boosting Your Organization’s Culture of Safety by Steering Clear of Seven Dangerous Mistakes

Safety Management Program

As they say, “invest in tomorrow by practicing safety today.” While that may seem to be a very commonsensical statement, common sense is not always common.

With safety being a key component to most post-pandemic business continuity plans, there has been a re-focus on the culture of safety. Most organizations that have a safety-first mantra have put a strong focus on creating effective safety observation programs. According to Chuck Pettinger, Process Change Leader for Predictive Solutions Corp, these programs “bolster employee engagement and provide a great repository for leading indicator analysis.”

While the focus of any safety program is to incorporate best practices and learnings to ensure that your program is founded on foolproof methods, there is also a lot we can learn from their failures. Put another way, we can identify additional opportunities to further test and optimize.


How Multi-Faceted Safety Programs Can Effectively Drive a Strong Safety Culture
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Safe+Sound Week and Leaders2Leaders: What Should Today’s Health & Safety Professionals Prioritize?

Communication at every level drives safety success and safety engagement at the companies showcased in our Leaders2Leaders Program.

Safety leaders from five companies met in the UK as part of our new Leaders2Leaders programme, a new series of videos, content and resources for health and safety professionals. They discussed a number of topics, including the impact of technology on health and safety, regulatory compliance, barriers to visibility, maintaining a safety culture, dialogue and buy-in with executives, bridging organisational siloes and what health and safety professionals should focus on as a matter of priority. While these topics all are interconnected, the experts had a lot to say about each one.

The Leaders2Leaders programme speaks to the mission of Safe + Sound Week, which was created as a nationwide event in the United States to recognize the successes of businesses that have adopted programs to improve workplace safety and health. Implementing … Read more...

COVID-19: How Social Distancing and Other Measures Fit into the Traditional Hierarchy of Controls

Some workplaces are measuring the temperatures of workers and visitors before they enter the workplace.

Like any workplace hazard, the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace can be slowed or eliminated by using a hierarchy of controls like those created for other hazardous exposures.

Elimination

The first step in the hierarchy of controls, however sometimes elimination of a hazard is not possible. Until a vaccine or other countermeasures are identified, COVID-19 is a potential hazard in the workplace. Review, update, or develop workplace plans to potentially include:  Liberal leave and telework policies including a leave policy for workers with COVID-19 symptoms; encourage employees to stay home and notify workplace administrators when sick; and provide non-punitive sick leave options to allow staff to stay home when ill.

Substitution

COVID-19 is not a hazardous chemical or process that can be replaced with a less-dangerous option. However, some employers are implementing a new … Read more...

Your EHS 4.0 Survival Guide: Digital Transformation with Connected Solutions

There’s a lot of discussion about “emerging technologies,” such as smart sensors, drones, cloud computing and mobile applications. But what many EHS and operations professionals fail to realize is that they already have powerful connected solutions close at hand.

Whether you are responsible for worker safety or operations management, you understand the complexities of managing workers, safety, and production while continuing to strive for operational excellence. Recently, you probably faced unscheduled shutdowns and consequently will engage in unscheduled start-ups. These are challenging times that require attention to process and safety management systems to prevent incidents.

You’re not alone in this challenge. EHS professionals who don’t embrace all of the connected solutions available to them often find themselves in the dark when it comes to identifying and mitigating hazards and improving how people and equipment are performing.

Connected Solutions Amplify Worker Safety

In this May 12 EHS Today webinar, “Your EHS … Read more...

All Hands and Hearts Uses Technology to Protect Volunteers and Staff


When a natural disaster strikes, All Hands and Hearts arrives early and stays late to assist the affected communities. Thanks to passionate volunteers, donors and partners, the U.S.-based nonprofit has provided 15 years of disaster relief support to over 1.2 million people.

In recent months, All Hands and Hearts has operated projects in response to damaging hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, earthquakes in Mexico and Nepal, and a tropical cyclone in Mozambique.

All Hands and Hearts Mobilizes Quickly

All Hands and Hearts effectively and efficiently addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities, by building in a disaster-resilient way that better prepares them for future events. Utilizing a unique volunteer model, All Hands and Hearts is able to mobilize quickly to work alongside local residents in areas around the world struck by natural disasters. The volunteers, many who have not had formal environment, health and safety training or … Read more...

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster: Why it Holds Important Lessons for Every Organization

Ten years later, the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon incident remain important.

On April 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and injured 17. By July 15, five million barrels of oil had flowed from the ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico. This caused untold environmental and economic disaster for the region, the effects of which continue to resonate to this day. 

Ten years later, the story of the Deepwater Horizon remains important. The Report to the President by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling summarized the technology failures. On the face of it, these failures were responsible for the immediate disaster.

Significant Technology Failures

In summary, the most significant technology failure was that of the blowout preventer (BOP), which did not sever and seal the well … Read more...

Using an Integrated Management System in Your Organization

Many of today’s organizations use management systems to establish policies and procedures for achieving their objectives. Most frequently, organizations have management systems to support quality, health and safety, environment and sustainability, and data privacy. Management systems are not, by definition, technology solutions. Instead, they are conceptual models of the organizational processes and responsibilities that help coordinate everything in the direction of a common goal. However, while a management system can theoretically use paper-based manual processes, the increasing complexity of the global marketplace and the attendant compliance requirements mean that most organizations will need a reliable cloud-based technology solution to support their management systems. 

Management systems are often segregated from one another in the organization. For example, the quality management system might be separate from the safety management system. This creates the risk of isolated responses to incidents that impact each individual management system. It also means considerable duplication of effort, which wastes both human and financial resources. To … Read more...

Being a safe employer pays off: Ontario announces program to reward excellence in health and safety

The Government of Ontario has announced that it will provide $140 million in WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) rebates over three years for employers who successfully implement occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) in the workplace. The program is open to any employer regardless of sector or size, and while it will recognize existing safety management systems, it will also encourage organizations that don’t have safety management systems to create them. 

This program is the first of its kind in Canada. The incentive is part of Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers, a voluntary program that recognizes employers who are working towards lowering the accident and injury rate among Ontario workers. The program is accredited by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) under the authority of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development with the goal of promoting health and safety in the workplace and encouraging continuous improvement in existing safety management systems. The program has … Read more...