Operating in hazardous environments is your business. Safety is top of your list. You have strict rules and meticulous guidelines implemented, checked and double-checked.
And still accidents (or incidents as you might call them) happen.
You work with people not with programmable robots. You know it’ll take a different tune to really get your message heard. You need to innovate.
T H E S T O R Y
Hazardous workplaces call for drastic creativity
Stork is a worldwide company that provides industrial maintenance services. They do the really dangerous work that people can’t or don’t want to do themselves: cleaning petrochemical tanks, repairing chemical plants. In terms of safety the people at Stork do everything by the book (quite a few books actually). They run a tight operation. Everybody knows their drill. Wake any employee in the middle of the night and they could recite the rules to you (backwards, if necessary).
But still…people are people, and of course •••• happens.
Stork doesn’t want their people to get hurt (apart from anything else it’s bad for business). In today’s non-stop world machines gotta be stomping, pipelines gotta be pumping.
And herein also lies part of the problem. Safety isn’t just about taking the necessary precautions it’s also a question of culture. Daring to say ‘no’ to a client at the decisive moment, and knowing you can.
To increase awareness of safety we had to work at improving the company culture as a whole. Safety issues are connected to issues such as leadership, economics, craftsmanship, knowledge and empowerment.
This called for some collective soul searching and serious brainstorming. Several intensive workshops were conducted get people thinking differently about safety. Let’s call it safety innovation.
Together with trainers Mariette Graafland, Jules Heijneman and a cross-section of employees from around the world, we came up with 12 innovative scenarios we wanted to put to the test: from a safety ‘Disneyland’ to plagiarizing the way deep sea divers work.
T H E S O L U T I O N
Mr Dummy is a product of the series of bottom-up-workshops. Mr Dummy is every safety officer’s nightmare. He’s the guy at the next workstation who just went to lunch and left his tools lying on the floor: the guy who replaces the saw blade while the motor’s still running. He’s the lightning rod to all the anxiety and frustration that come with doing a dangerous job.
Mr Dummy featured in seven typical ‘toolbox sessions’ leading by wrong example. The employees loved to toss him around like a real crash test dummy. He got scorned and burned but did the job he was supposed to do: made safety an issue to talk about.
T H E R E S U L T
Being innovative is accepting flukes
It wasn’t until the new chairman saw some striking resemblances, (and when employees started to call Mr Dummy ‘big boss’ while setting him on fire) that upper management promoted Mr. Dummy to another department. Nobody’s heard of him since.
That leaves eleven innovative safety projects in the pipeline.
This new approach to safety caught the attention of Stork’s clients. Showcasing their innovative ideas on safety turned out to be a great business opener.