I want to give a different perspective on how to have a successful safety program or inclusive how to use the concept of safety to impulse or revamp the continuous improvement in your business.

As Dan Petersen says in his book “Safety Management-The Human Approach” we do not manage safety as production or supply chain.

We still using the old concepts such as based behavior safety from the perspective of observing our employees what they do right or wrong and find the factors and modify their way to do things in the business instead of based behavior safety as a culture where all decisions are analyzed for the risk perspective. For example, imagine you are a chemical facility that needs to adjust your budget, and during the analysis of the cost reduction, the steering committee, they decided to cut some preventive maintenance programs. The engineering and maintenance manager complained but not the success. The question is, have you as a committee had risk assessed that decision? Cutting those programs could lead to having fires, injuries, or environmental damage.

An expert in ISO compliance told me that ISO 9001:2015 changed drastically. Now on all the critical decisions shall be risk assessed as much as possible not only from the finance and cost, it shall be evaluated from the hazard and risk perspective as well to avoid tragic incidents that will impact quality, environment, and safety to the public.

I am not an expert in ISO. However, I know the standard decently, and I have been responsible for my previous jobs on the implementation and maintenance of it, therefore this a significant change for various industries.

By having this brief introduction, I would like to ask everybody the following:

What is the peak benefit of safety in your organization?

Is it compliance, incident prevention or to impulse continuous improvement? It is essential nowadays in modern marketing or companies that are relationship- first-enterprises oriented1 to answer this question.

As Product-First-Oriented companies, we push and push our products first, if you are in the manufacturing area, production will be first because of this orientation, the peak benefit is compliance.

Some global companies have said that their peak benefit is the incident reduction, but they are still Product-First-Enterprise. Few companies are Relationship-First-Enterprise; however, we will see more and more small companies going to this type of orientation, therefore the peak benefit of their safety program in to support continuous improvement and establish relationships with their employees and customers.

Peak Benefit Equals Compliance.

We cannot deny that following law, acts, regulations and standards are paramount for any type of organization, however, to stop at this point is dangerous. Why?

I have heard many times these types of answers when I have asked companies their opinion about their safety programs and I have gone these typical answers. we comply with the regulations, we are in compliance with everything. There is nothing wrong with them, they feel proud of their safety program.

The concern that I have with this peak benefit is that your company has been reactive, checking the checklist of the regulation of standards

If we based safety only in compliance, consequently new ideas and creativity will stop. Companies won’t be available to identify causes and consequences, and this is the fundamental problem of many organizations. Corporations are being reactive, not preventive and way far of being creative.

Laws, regulations, and standards shall be only the based to start building a continuous improvement culture not being the definitive goal. This is the reason why the FDA issues a lot 483 forms, because companies are not able to show a real analysis that finds the causes and consequences to prevent deviations. Also, it the reason why the FDA inspectors find the same deviations again and again.

Companies shall use these compliance documents as a reference to model the idea that will bring benefits to your organization, employees, and customers.

PEAK Benefit- Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is one of the critical goals for any safety program. Therefore, the quality of your incident investigation is paramount.

During the incident, the investigation is essential to determine the sequence of events, causal factors and root causes that contribute to the occurrence. However, at this point, many companies do not go further to determine preventive and predictive action items to implement.

The methodology of the investigation shall allow you to identify causes and prevent consequences if not, the company will have the same occurrence repeatedly.

PEAK BENEFIT- Continuous Improvement.

Continuous improvement in safety requires constant hazard and risk assessments activities to identify the cause and the consequence or in other words, hazards and risks.

Having the Relationship-First Enterprise model will allow you to identify these two components, by allowing to your employees to find their solution to fix their problems.

Here are the three steps to solve to achieve the Peak Benefit- Continuous Improvement.

  1. Listen to/ observe/analyze. Develop a system to collect all concerns that your employees (floor operators, supervisors, technicians) have regarding of the current process. It will help you to find the causes and consequences.
  2. Ask and learn. Do not reinvent the wheel. It very common to see organizations try to comply reactively that at the end they are reinventing the wheel and getting in more troubles than before. Use the system that you have currently, adjusted to the new demands. How can you do it? Simple, follow the first step and do not stop in the compliance peak benefit.
  3. Teach/coach and act. This step is critical because normally we tend to act, coach and teach. Therefore, your communication process will be broken. Teach first this will allow you capture questions and point of views of those who did not participate in the process of fixing the problem. Coach, you will start training at this step, and act or implement.

In conclusion, complying does not guarantee that you are protecting the safety of the employees, being only in compliance mode companies are only thinking the checklist of the standard, regulation or law.

Secondly, the incident prevention requires having a hazard and risk assessment approach and how companies go further with preventive and predictive programs.

Thirdly, the continuous improvement peak benefit will help you to increase the safety performance of your organization because it will generate a synergy to find the causes and consequences of any decision made.



  1. Bishop, Bill “The problem of the Penguins”.


© Edgar Fernandez- 2018