Posted by: Knightbird | July 30, 2010

Federal Citations for Safety and other Violations

The Upper Big Branch mine; the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, fire, and oil spill; and the Enbridge Energy Partner’s pipeline Michigan oil spill are all serious safety violations. We have all heard of them as they take up serious bandwidth and newsprint. Each of the companies owning the offending operation have racked up citation after citation. And there are many others racking up violations that don’t get the same bandwidth, but are still threats to the health and safety of their employees. This blog features references to OSHA violations, and the list is long. ( It even includes  a United States Postal Facility. What will it take for companies to realize that there is a way to both reduce injuries, make a workplace as safe as it can, and still save money on operations? Intrigued? Well, take a look at what Alcoa Aluminum did under former President and CEO Paul O’Neill.

In his latest book, Chasing the Rabbit, author Stephen Spear profiles Alcoa’s relentless pursuit of safety under Mr. O’Neill. It was a requirement for every manager who had an accident occur among their reports to file a report that reached Mr. O’Neill within 24 hours. With Mr. O’Neill’s travel obligations, this meant reporting the incident as soon as possible. And within 48 hours, the Manger had to have a proposed fix to reduce or eliminate the cause of the accident. As Dr. Spear describes the aluminum processing industry, it becomes very clear that the industry is fraught with danger for its employees, from high electrical loads, to moving equipment and machinery, to moving molten aluminum. Yet today, the average lost workday rate at Alcoa is .076. What a record. However, Dr. Spear also reports that Alcoa claims a savings of over One Billion Dollars through implementation of its Lean Manufacturing initiative.

The Lean Culture is producing such incredible results, it puzzles me why more companies haven’t adopted it already.

So just what did Mr. O’Neill try to do with his Lean Leadership Knowledge beyond Alcoa? Well, he took it to the healthcare industry through his leadership in starting the Pittsburg Regional Health Initiative, (PRHI) again with phenomenal results. Here is a quote from one Health Facility that experienced some of these phenomenal results:

“In 2003, Dr. Richard Shannon, then Director of Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), attended PPC University and came away convinced that, by applying the principles and standardizing the work, the two intensive care units under his supervision could eliminate central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLAB) within 90 days. The results were immediate. Between 2003 and 2006, the MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit) and CCU (Coronary Care Unit) sustained a greater than 95% reduction in CLABS and reduced deaths to zero.”

Naida Grunden was the Public Relations staff for the PRHI during its formative years, and wrote a fascinating book about the PRHI, which you can read about and order at her web site. I encourage you to read it. It’s an example of real leadership in action. And to think that these methods have been available for so long but haven’t yet been adopted by that many health care facilities. Kind of sounds like the companies listed in the first sentence of this blog, doesn’t it?

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