Tuesday, October 13, 2009



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?


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 expectations.

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 discussion 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 session.


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 communicated.

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 illnesses.

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.

Credited to my friend and mentor:
Steve Geigle


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