Most of our clients make a great effort to start meetings in a meaningful way with respect to safety. Many enjoy collecting relevant safety topics for easy reference at the beginning of meetings, and we’ve seen countless humorous videos that illustrate critical risks and risk reduction activities. We’ve admired highly engaged employees who talk about the exposures they expect to encounter during the next few hours and how they intend to ensure the right safety controls are in place.
As important as starting a meeting with meaningful safety moments is, we believe it is even more important to end your meetings with safety. In this article, we propose an additional Safety Implications Check at the end of your meetings.
Why spend 5-10 minutes on safety at the end of your meeting?
In 2015, Krause and Bell conducted a study whose findings had big implications for meetings in which decisions are being made. Along with our partners at ORCHSE Strategies (formerly Organization Resource Counselors), we examined organizational decisions leading up to serious injury and fatalities (SIFs). We called it the 2015 Safe Decision Making Study.
The 2015 Safe Decision Making Study set out to explore decisions leading up to 60 SIF events. Sixteen (16) different organizations from several industries participated. We extracted over 600 decisions from interviews, root cause analyses, corrective action plans and other documents. We examined each decision in great depth, evaluating over 30 attributes such as timing, level, function, activity at the time of the decision, the stage at which the decision-making process broke down (if it did), and the biases in play.
The study revealed that managerial decisions play a major role in injury causation and prevention. Of the 612 decisions studied, 64% were made above the front line. Site-level operations and functional managers made the majority of the decisions (54%). Importantly, leaders above the site made fewer decisions, but their decisions tended to have greater impact on safety.
Because managerial decisions matter play such a big role in SIFs, we encourage our readers to think differently about the decisions you make day-to-day. We suggest investing a little time at the end of meetings to uncover decisions that impact safety.
Safety Implications Check
A Safety Implications Check is simply a 5- to 10-minute discussion at the end of your meetings. Start the discussion by asking questions like:
- What are the safety implications of decisions that we are making and/or discussing today?
- Who (or what data) should be informing our decision process so that we can anticipate risk and identify the best options available to us?
- What assumptions are we making and how can we test them?
- How can we reduce the effects of biases such as overconfidence bias, recency bias, status quo bias, or underestimation of cumulative risk?
This simple quick check can trigger powerful conversations that help leaders recognize when they are making decisions that impact safety, anticipate risk, and exercise sound judgement. The resulting conversations don’t safety alone: they will benefit every aspect of business that you focus on. Visit our website at www.krausebellgroup.com to learn more about our work on this important topic.
 To be clear, we’re not suggesting not to start meetings with safety. A well-chosen safety moment at the beginning reinforces the message that no topic is more important than safety.
 7 Insights into Safety Leadership. Ojai, CA: Safety Leadership Institute.