Safety Culture

Create Safety Culture through ‘Sacred’ Time and ‘Sacred’ Space

Author : John Stevenson


Part of Performance Solutions by Milliken’s manufacturing safety tips series – click here to learn more


Building an excellent safety process demands the wise use of resources. In any plant, office, hospital, or other facility, Time and Space are finite, limited, and therefore, precious resources. When we devote time and space to safety, we elevate that endeavor to a higher status creating a strong safety culture. Consider the amount of time your associates spend in the worksite. How much of that time is dedicated to safety? Think about the total square footage in your facility. What part of that is set aside for safety? By devoting these resources to creating awareness, we encourage teams to take control of the safety process in the facility. Unfortunately, many plants tell teams they can only have a corner of a bulletin board for safety and their time for safety must be outside of work time. This is the reason we refer to safety time and space as ‘sacred’. A dedicated, physical workspace is considered ‘sacred’ space. An undisturbed, consistent time during the workday is the ‘sacred’ time.

EVERY associate in Milliken dedicates at least 5% of work time to develop safety awareness each week. Associate ‘sacred’ time for safety consists of awareness activities, safety audits, and safety team involvement. By itself, the time is not over-whelming to complete. However, the cumulative effects have substantial cultural impact. An efficient, effective 5% of everyone’s time produces tremendous results.


Sacred Time for Safety Projects

Their ‘sacred’ safety time is used to complete safety projects. Some teams work on long term initiatives, solving problems to root cause, implementing high level countermeasures (for example, re-design, mistake proof, eliminate the hazard). Often, long term projects leverage a problem-solving method, such as DMAIC. Repeatedly, teams identify a problem, realize the hazard, analyze the issues to discover the root cause, and fix the problem. By taking ‘sacred’ time to work on problems, team can virtually eliminate the hazard related to the work. Had they not had the dedicated time to work on the project, people doing the work could have been injured.


Sacred Spaces for Safety Communication

In our ‘sacred’ spaces, valuable floor space is committed to meetings and measurement boards. The measurement boards track and display important goals and accomplishments. The boards also serve the purpose of accountability to the safety project commitments and expectations. The measurements posted on the boards are more than the typical charts of recordable, and safety posters. These measurements dive into the “leading indicators” of safety excellence such as involvement, risk reduction, and investigations. Typically, the measurement boards also serve as a team gathering spot before taking to the floor to work on a safety project or audit. In addition, safety teams have dedicated meeting areas, on the floor or conference room. The exclusive use of that area creates a sense of permanence and long-term commitment to their endeavor. Again, re-emphasizing the ‘sacred’ space for safety.

A resource commitment is essentially an important investment. Commitment of time and space to safety is, essentially, an investment in the everyone’s health and well-being. As a result, everyone understands that safety is not just another program – here today and gone tomorrow – it is a process for excellence.

Are you looking to improve your safety processes? Contact Performance Solutions by Milliken today to learn more.