229987 Changing skilled trades health and safety culture from within to reduce the risk of fatalities

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Katherine King, MS, PE, BCEE , School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Judith Daltuva, MA, MSW , School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Monroe Keyserling, PhD, CSP, CPE , Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Thomas Robins, MD, MPH , Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Within manufacturing labor union in the auto industry, skilled trades personnel comprise approximately 20% of the membership. Yet, this sector experienced 41% of the fatalities, presenting a substantially higher risk per hour worked than production workers. A Midwest University and a major automotive transmission plant collaborated on a joint labor management skilled trades action research project to identify and intervene on systemic root causes and workplace cultural influences that contribute to unsafe work practices. During the initial meetings, the joint committee group members agreed that the dominant factor driving safety culture at the plant was a history of disciplinary action for safety procedure violations and reported incidents, resulting in people following safety procedures to avoid negative consequences. Members also reported that a company focus on short-term profitability resulted in a lack of adequate resources for personnel, safety-related equipment and training, adversely impacting the safety culture. Three approaches were used to explore these themes in depth: 1) an innovative small group activity to identify complex contributing factors to the plant safety culture; 2) an analysis of generic incidents using a method developed by Kjellan and Larsen (1981) that identifies underlying persistent determining factors at physical/technical, organizational/ economic, and social/ individual levels; and 3) focus groups with the various skilled trades and their supervisory personnel. The group identified several potential opportunities for positive interventions. These ranged from changing the type of fall protection equipment to strategies that increase planned, preventative maintenance while reducing the need for reactive maintenance.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the strengths of three innovative tools to identify actionable systemic factors that contribute to a non-optimal manufacturing plant health and safety culture. 2) Articulate the benefits of joint labor/ management action research.

Keywords: Occupational Safety, Labor-Management Relations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 30 years professional experience with industrial hazardous materials health and safety and environmental exposure.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.