“The Quest for Zero”

The authors share lessons learned and examine the fundamentals of shifting a workforce of 450+ employees from a compliance based concept of safety management to what they describe as a “Culture Based Safety” work method.

Today, it is generally well recognized by most industrial safety professionals that regulations, policies, procedures, and compliance alone are insufficient to maintain an injury-free work environment. Still, the question remains as to where exactly the path beyond compliance based safety should lead a particular organization. The authors have learned that the answer to that question may be as individual as the work environments themselves. Experience demonstrates that “canned” programs relying upon institutionalized behavior modification often leave employees disinterested, distrustful, and alienated. Often as not, these programs fall short of producing positive, tangible, and sustainable results. This paper will chart the journey of a workforce over several years from a place where serious injuries were once commonplace, to one where each employee is dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of every other employee. The journey required shifting the mindsets of all employees. Management most of all, was compelled to reassess safety strategies and abandon long held beliefs in order to successfully move forward. The authors hope these insights may help others to find an easier path in The Quest For Zero.

Rowdy Heiser and Ron Hughes have spent the bulk of their careers in underground mining environments. In an industry once notorious for worker safety, they have been privileged to be part of the transformation to a work culture fundamentally based in safety.
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