Category: Safety in the Workplace

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture

By John Schaefer, January 31, 2012 6:00 am

Bryan Drey of Arizona Public Service recently wrote about creating a positive culture of safety. The most striking was that a safety culture be positive, not just conscious. A positive culture reflects a commitment by management to create or continue that environment. The other striking point was management’s engagement in the process.

Drey continues: ” There are several key elements to creating a positive safety culture:

  • Management, at all levels, must be involved and participate in the safety program to show they genuinely care about the well being and safety of every employee.
  • Management and employees must participate together in collaborative problem solving to identify safe and unsafe behavior.
  • All employees should receive high quality safety training (consider hiring an expert third party) and follow training with ongoing coaching and on the job training from all levels in the organization.
  • Operational processes and policies must be established that ensure that safety is always at the forefront of any action or activity.
  • All employees must be empowered to report and when necessary act on unsafe behavior, and identified issues must be quickly addressed by management”

Engagement isn’t only about the workers; it is about management too.

If you’d like to know more about how this can happen at your company, visit us at

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Employee Engagement & Safety Culture of Today’s Workplace

By John Schaefer, January 25, 2012 6:00 am

Engaging employees can oftentimes be a challenge especially in today’s economy. While many employees may be retained, employers may have a false sense they are also engaged. As many as 30% of American workers are reporting they are not engaged according to recent studies by Gallup and others regularly conducting national and international studies of engagement. Workers are also reporting staying at jobs because there are no jobs in their field or at their level of expertise; they are what we call underemployed.

One of the signs of disengaged employees is lack of adherence to safety regulations. They just don’t care and this can lead to mistakes that cost your business time, money and resources. In this issue we will discuss identifying disengagement and how you can create a Safety Culture.

Learn more about engaging employees when a representative from Schaefer Recognition Group meets with you free of charge. We offer a variety of tools to help your company save money while improving the measurable results of your employee recognition and performance management incentive programs.

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Safety in the Workplace: What We Can Learn from the Costa Concordia

By John Schaefer, January 21, 2012 7:57 am

By John Schaefer – America’s Employee Recognition Expert
Founder and President of Schaefer Recognition Group

Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia off the Tuscan Coastal Island of Giglio

From the Russian tanker delivering oil to a nearly fuel-less and frozen Nome, Alaska to the ever- changing political scorecards around the world to the capsized Italian cruise ship off the Tuscan coast, the first weeks of 2012 have been nothing short of newsworthy. As rescue work continues aboard the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, the mission of the Italian Coast Guard is moving from rescue to recovery. As the world waits for word on the recovery of the dozens of missing passengers, the legal battle has already begun.

The ships’ operator Costa Cruises, owned by the more recognized brand Carnival Cruise Lines, accused Captain Francesco Schettino of causing the wreck. They stated he made an “unapproved, unauthorized maneuver” to divert the vessel from its programmed course.   Some reports indicate Schettino went off course so his head waiter could see his island home of Giglio. Regardless of why, the captain changed course which most certainly brings his judgment into question.

As a safety expert I am wondering why Captain Schettino would take a chance with what is essentially a floating village with its more than 4,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The company’s president Pier Luigi Foschi claims the captain’s behavior broke all rules and regulations. The lawyers are fighting to protect the ship’s builder by demonstrating the high level of safety and technology standards. The captain is on house arrest accused of abandoning ship among other charges.

The nagging question is why the ship was brought off course. The answer, while simple, seems to evade many management teams. It comes down to properly designed, implemented and tracked safety training.  We would like to think employees are going to do the right thing when it comes to work safety and decision making. The Costa Concordia illustrates how easily one innocent act can lead to disaster, embarrassment, death and millions of dollars in financial losses for a company.

No matter how the courts rule or who blames who for the disaster or who pays the bills, nothing will bring back the lives lost. The company’s reputation and perhaps the industry’s reputation will be damaged for a long time and will cost millions to repair. Not only repairing the reputations but repairing ships and reviewing regulations.

Ask Safety Director Brian Drey; from Arizona Public Service in Phoenix, Arizona, and he’ll tell you that he’s not surprised.  When safety is not embedded in an organization’s culture, talked about and reinforced every day and made a top priority in every employee’s job description, the possibility of accidents based on one person’s poor judgment are always going to be a concern.

Nobody wants to have an accident, hurt others or damage their company.  Targeted sabotage and retaliation by angry ex-employees is quite rare.  Most accidents occur much like this one, with an innocent act and limited forethought.  My guess is that this captain had done things like this before without incident, so did not consider the potential danger this time.

Proper safety training cuts through the vague judgment calls and produces a simple list of behaviors that become habits, so when the opportunity arises to veer off course (no pun intended), employees stop and make the decision to do the right thing.  It comes down to a safety commitment that puts proper decision making as the first priority and ultimately leads to the avoidance of tragic events like the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help your company, visit us at

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