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Ok we won't talk Safety, Only Business

This happens frequently with some business owners and senior managers in countless workplaces.

“ No. I don’t want to hear about safety today, I am swamped.
The real business is crying for my attention. So many things are going wrong all over the place all of a sudden.
I have got to do something fast otherwise there might not even be a business left to talk about, much less your precious safety. We just have to take a scrubbing brush to the whole thing and give it a good shine. So this safety thing of yours just has to wait, am sorry. But where do I begin? See? It’s all falling apart and only the good Lord knows why. If only people will do what they’re supposed to do!

This is one tough call, Bro. I won’t lie to you but there is no giving up – not on my watch anyhow, no way. They say a Spartan dies but never surrenders. Come to think of it I always wondered if there is any real sense in such a finite philosophy but, this is not Sparta. This here is Rollard Iron Works, Inc. - my business. C’mon let’s get cracking.
So where do I begin? That’s the question I would like an answer to right now. Is it:
·         The workshop, with all those slow coaches?
·          Or the Material Order section who take weeks of dilly dallying to fill out a material order?
·          What about Sales who are long on the talk but extremely short on delivery?
·         And there’s Transportation with the unenviable record for lateness and incessant road collisions which are often beyond reasonable explanations?
·         Or is it the QA/QC people whose only claim to fame is certification, certification there; ISO this and ISO that?
·         Or maybe I should start over at the Human Resource/Training department? But those are no good either beyond Personnel Procedure Manual provisions regurgitation and all that. And look at what hash they have managed to make of this year’s training budget.

Heck, what a fine mess have I gotten myself into? What a deal, what a place to call your own workplace!”
So what is going on?

This is a skeleton view of a business or workplace that is obviously tottering on the brink as a result of a basketful of management issues which did not suddenly appear but have evidently been simmering just below the surface for a while, until this critical moment when it inevitably dawns that they either have to shape up or ship out. Act correctly now and promptly, or forget it.
Good a thing the boss man realizes he’s got some fundamental issues across his operations to resolve as soon as practicable. It is also a useful thing that he has a one liner periscope view of what might be responsible for the enduring troubles in each of his departments or sections. But he, at the same time, doesn’t want to talk safety. He wants to talk business because he’s swamped with problems. A bit of a mismatch there but nevertheless, you can safely say that he has taken the first critical step to righting the listing ship of his business. So why don’t we take a  quick tour of realism with him for starters so that we can at least get the BIG Picture of what might be truly amiss.
  • The Workshop
He sees those running the workshop as slow coaches, which implies that they are slow to turn out jobs. This can have a downstream effect of schedule delays in production and other departments fed by the workshop. Now if production, maintenance, and say, transportation departments are held up due to late repairs turnaround by the workshop, you’ve to imagine that not much else is moving by way of productivity. So you eventually find that the plotted ‘Planned vs. Actual’ are miles apart, and that is to say projected earnings correspondingly below targets.

So now you want to know why? Your answer is: Too many stoppages of work because of in-situ repairs, accidents and equipment failures due to poor handling by poorly trained new or replacement employees, inadequate tools and replacement parts, poor supervision, late reporting, poor scheduling, etc. Surprised that this man doesn’t want to talk Safety? I am not.
  • The Materials Order Section
The man said they dillydally for weeks to fill out one material order request form for approval, so how does he expect such a workplace not to be short of critical spares, especially replacement parts crucial to timely workshop job turnaround? That being the case, why would he expect that there won’t be crippling under production, unauthorized and unapproved Change Control Management and ultimately, accidents, sundry losses and all that? Why won’t the workshop people appear like slow coaches if necessary spares take forever to arrive due to issues with timely requisitioning? And this is the man who wants to talk Business and not Safety, but is now seeking urgent answers?  How is that?

It doesn’t make sense. It has to be clear to all that one department’s output is input to the next. Such is the intertwined and interwoven relationship in a smooth running operation or system. Delay to one is delay to all and, a ‘rush job in one’ means ‘a rush job’ everywhere, and that could open up a potential floodgate of forced errors and omissions, shortcuts and permitted oversights, which can lead to all kinds of losses to the business in the end.
  • The Sales Department
This is an easy one. What are they going to sell when there’s nothing forthcoming from the production line? So why won’t they be tall on colourful, eye-catching Client Slides presentations when they know there is little else by way of finished products to offer the expectant, agitated and frustrated clienst? The game is called stalling for time and you’ve to learn to be very good at it or the customer will look elsewhere in no time. So quit chewing off the Sales people sir, because they can’t sell what you’ve not produced, simple. Maybe you should be thinking of commending them for their artistry or gallantry or dedication, or for some more.
  • The Transportation Department
Their habitual lateness is now easily understood, and so are the incessant road collisions because if you start out behind schedule you are guaranteed to arrive behind schedule, there is no magic to it. But if you try to beat the time to meet the schedule then you can’t be too far from a collision because of the many traffic violations you’ll rack up along the way. In this business one error begets another, so it is all related like the links on a chain. Skip one and you derail the whole chain. Say, you still don’t want to talk safety?
  • The QA/QC Department
If they do not put a stamp of authority on the quality of your product how are you going to compete favourably in the open market? Who’ll speak for your product in terms of quality assurance, standards, etc, on the way to the client’s shelf or production assembly line? If you do not have the approved international certifications how big will your market get and who’s is going to attest to the safety standard of your products? See why you should talk Safety, boss man?
  • The Human Resources/Training Department
This is your getaway to all the rest of all the good things such as proper selection, policies, procedures, competence training and development, succession planning, welfare, etc, etc, you name it. This is where it starts and this is where it ends. Get it wrong here and there is no need for the rest
Are you ready to talk Safety yet or it is still Business? Safety is the soul of business. If you want to save yourself the money, time and sundry business crippling headaches, cotton on to SAFETY from the beginning to the end because there’s no such thing as sustainable business without safety

 

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