Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Concept Removes the Responsibility From Management

From Anonymous:

In the current newsletter, the Director addresses the new behavior based safety program. It is founded on the DuPont STOP program, an approach presumably championed by Dave Herbert, formerly of DuPont and now a consultant at the laboratory. As the Director points out in the newsletter, the central tenet of the new approach is personal responsibility, or to quote the Director -- "all employees are responsible for their own safety". I know little about the program, but have heard from industrial hygienists that its true beauty is that this single concept removes the responsibility from management.

That is certainly a cynical point of view, but may be shared by the workers at DuPont's Niagara Falls plant, a site which has been using STOP for some time. The plant was fined this summer for failing to report the injury of a worker exposed to chlorine gas. As the attached article explains, this comes on the heels of a National Labor Review Board (NLRB) ruling against the company for refusing to tell workers (the local union) where the hazardous chemicals were stored. I can only speculate as to why management would not tell the staff where the dangers lie, if indeed safety is principally the staff's responsibility.

DuPont has had problems in the past with safety reporting. Some of you may remember the days of the tiger teams when DuPont's safety record and TRC was held up as a shining beaon by the DOE. In fact, our own Director told us at an all hands meeting this fall that we are 'not even in the same league as DuPont' in terms of safety. He was presumably not aware of the fact that DuPont paid a fine to OSHA for under-reporting during those years, and was required to resubmit the 'correct' numbers. The court ordered 'correct' numbers are reported in Holian's op-ed piece, where it can be seen that DuPont and the laboratory have been very similar in the past few years, with TRC rates of about 2 injuries / 200, 000 hrs. worked. One hopes the fact that DuPont makes over $100 million per year selling the STOP safety program had nothing to do with these reporting oversights.

All of us agree that safety is extremely important. It is also extremely complex, and can't be captured in a single statistic such as the TRC, although that is an important indicator. Individual responsibility is indisputably important, but so is an attitude on the part of management to work with the staff, as opposed to burying them under paperwork and creating an atmosphere where fear of reporting an injury, by both employee and supervisor, is the hidden directive.

The original article can be found at:

This is a very important posting: let the blame games begin!

If a "target" level of the rate of accidents per year is set at 1%, then there are two ways to achieve that. (1) Cut down the amount of real work, and replace it with filling out bureaucratic paperwork. Or, (2) lie about it. If you accidentally chop the tip off your finger, just wrap it up in a rag and put it in your back pocket; then if your boss comes in and sees that you have another bloody rag wrapped around the stump, just tell him you had a slight accident in your garage last night with that damn table saw. Then, after he leaves, and if you don't pass out, head for the ER.

This is a hell of a system. Anyone caught screwing up and not being able to lie his/her way out of it will bring down the curtain for the whole Lab. You don't suppose that's Cap'n Ahab's secret plan, do you?
I thought Nanos instituted the STOP program back in July...
yes i have seen this system before. many years ago i worked for a steel company and the union rep told me bluntly that any accidents would be my fault, no matter how they happened. i wouldn't get fired if i didn't do my job, but i would if i got hurt trying to do it. the company, by the way went out of business.
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