Applying Deming to safety


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Internationally noted speaker , safety expert and performance improvement expert, Phil La Duke is available to make this presentation at your site. For information, call 248.860.1086 or email

And if you enjoyed this presentation you might also enjoy Phil La Duke’s worker safety blog or his monthy column, The Safe Side in Fabricating and Metalworking magazine premiering in May 2010.

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  • If you enjoy this presentation you might also enjoy Phil La Duke's safety blog or his monthly column, The Safe Side, premiering in Fabricating and Metalworking magazine in May, 2010.
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  • Phil La Duke makes this presentation to companies and professional events. If you are interested in having Mr. La Duke present, call him at 248.860.1086 or email him at
  • After yet another safety professional asked me how to change their safety culture I decided to revisit the father of the quality revolution, Dr. W. Edward Deming seminal work, Out of Crisis, (in my estimation) remains the quintessential blue-print for organizational change. Many consider Dr. Edward Deming the father of modern manufacturing, the inventor of the Total Quality Management, and of the principle architect of the quality revolution. In 1982 Dr. Deming summarized his philosophy in 14 points in his book Out of Crisis . Deming’s 14 points are the foundation of lean manufacturing and lean principles. But underlying Deming’s philosophy was his deep seated belief that variation was the root cause of most of the problems in manufacturing. While Deming’s 14 points were intended to address quality issues they are equally pertinent to safety issues.
  • Deming advocated the rejection of short-term reactions in favor of proactive long-term planning. At the crux of this planning was the belief that organizations should focus more on prevention than on short term goals. Certainly constancy of purpose—the belief in the value of a long-term commitment to continual improvement—applies to safety. The constancy of purpose toward safety supports safety inspections that look for process improvements to reduce work place risk, the development and deployment of safety strategies, and continuous improvement workshops focused on safety improvements.
  • If we extrapolate Deming’s second point to include safety we discover a safety system that no longer tolerates Incident Rates or Days Away or Restricted Time rates as acceptable measures of safety. The transformation of Western management style needs to include the rejection of any metric that tolerates any injury level as expected or acceptable in favor of metrics that express safety as the absence of risk factors and that seek to eliminate all risk of injury from a production system. Additionally, there has been much attention in recent years on the idea that organizations must transform their corporate culture to a safety culture. Despite the differences in opinion among safety professionals as to the exact form this change should take, and the best means by which to achieve this change, many agree that a new and radical change in the approach to worker safety must be adopted.
  • Basically, Deming argued that the way to achieve quality is to hardwire it into the process, and this is absolutely true for safety as well. As Deming argued for organizations to cease dependence on mass inspection, companies wishing to become truly safe must cease dependence on annual audits and compliance programs to ensure worker safety and look for ways to use statistical evidence to identify and correct safety “hot spots”. This is not to say that organizations should abandon safety audits, rather, the focus of audits needs to shift from being primarily an indicator of compliance and more an indicator or progress toward the goal of a zero-risk workplace. Safety audits should be focused on validating improvements in safety not on validating compliance.
  • When suppliers fail to meet specifications the variation it introduces into our processes are just as likely to injure our workers as it is to imperil our quality, reliability, or delivery. When suppliers fail to meet production schedules, ship poor quality, or otherwise work out of process they force us to escalate our risks by working outside of our own processes. Unreliable suppliers cannot be tolerated. Additionally, the safety records of our potential suppliers should be a key determining factor in whether or not we award our business to them. Unreliable suppliers force our workers to work out of process which raises the risk of injury exponentially.
  • A robust process is the greatest safeguard against worker injury available to organizations today. A truly efficient process is one that does not produce waste, and injuries are a profound source of workplace waste in that they expend resources without returning anything of value. The safest processes are also the most efficient processes. The key to a safer work places lies not in the creation of a safety culture (or more accurately a safety subculture) rather in the development of a corporate culture that is characterized by a relentless pursuit of process improvement.
  • Perhaps the best way to keep worker’s safe is to train them in the safest way to do their jobs, and the best way to train workers is to do so in an environment that approximates the actual conditions in which the worker will work. Where it is safe to do so, workers should be trained on the job. And as the job requirements change, so too should the workers be trained in the new processes; ideally, this training should occur well in advance of the implementation of those changes. But far too often, safety training is focused solely on meeting a government regulation and little importance is placed on skills building. The quality of safety training must be improved such that it not only satisfies a governmental mandate but that it also provides meaningful skills for making the workplace safer.
  • Safety needs to be leadership driven and Operations owned, but for that to happen safety professionals need to do a far better job of educating Operations leadership in interpreting safety data and indicators, and the basics of safety strategy. It’s fine for safety professionals to demand that Operations own safety, but unless they step up to the challenge of educating Operations leadership it is unlikely that Operations will assume ownership
  • When people fear reporting injuries and near misses either because of a threat of punishment or a loss of safety incentive their silence impedes continuous improvement and process refinement. The disciplinary approach so often used in the name of accountability reinforces a climate of fear and while it will always be appropriate to discipline those who willfully, recklessly, and negligently endanger themselves and others, these incidents are exceedingly rare. The organization must be taught to see near misses and incidents as opportunities to learn about shortfalls within their processes. Injury causes and workplace hazards must be investigated to their root causes and permanent corrective actions must be implemented.
  • Safety is everyone’s job and the safety process must make this more than a philosophical slogan. Each job description should have a clear, measurable, and observable explanation of specifically what tasks must be completed by that individual to ensure that the workplace is operating with minimal risk of injury.
  • Deming saw efforts to promote quality through slogans and reward systems as sources of friction and conflict within the organization—because defects are most often the result of human error or naturally occurring variation—the punishment for such actions do not achieve the intended results nor do rewards make a marked difference in improvement. Safety has seen a similar trend. Injured employees are often blamed for the loss of safety rewards and the pain of their injuries is compounded by the hostility or disappointment of coworkers and supervisors. Nobody wants to get hurt, and the process is not intentionally designed to hurt them: fix the problem not the blame.
  • In simple terms, Deming was saying that one gets what one measures but often the measurements yield unintended and unwanted results. In the same way, Safety professionals must stop establishing goals for safety that are anything less than zero risk of injuries. Also, safety incentives and reward programs should either be abandoned or modified such that they reward desired behaviors and not unwanted results.
  • Similarly, organizations must eliminate performance incentives for safe workplaces and replace the incentives for removing risk. When an organization rewards the absence of something, i.e. injuries, it risks rewarding the concealment of those things. Studies have shown that many safety incentive programs reward people for concealing recordable injuries and punish individuals for getting hurt.
  • The more people understand about the process and how to do their jobs the better equipped they are to make meaningful suggestions as to how to improve the process. Safety training should be completely revamped and designed using the latest in instructional design concepts and theories.
  • This step resonates with safety professionals who seek to have operations leadership and ownership of safety, but it also underscores the on-going need for safety professionals to educate leadership in what they need to do to achieve true workplace safety. Too often safety professionals throw up their hands and blame their failures on a lack of leadership commitment. Sometimes leaders don’t commit to the safety professional because the safety professional has no credibility, is incompetent, or doesn’t understand the organization’s core business.
  • If you enjoyed this presentation you may also enjoy Mr. La Duke’s blog:
  • Applying Deming to safety

    1. 1. Applying Deming’s 14-Points to Worker Safety Phil La Duke O/E Learning Presents… My Account o Global Dashboard o Stats o Blog Surfer o Tag Surfer o My Comments o My Blogs o Edit Profile o Support o o Log Out * My Dashboard * New Post * Edit Post * Blog Info o Random Post o Follow this Blog o Add to Blogroll
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Who was Dr. Edward Deming? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does Deming mater? </li></ul><ul><li>Deming’s 14-Points </li></ul>
    3. 3. Point One: Constancy of Purpose <ul><li>“Create constancy of purpose for continual improvement of products and service to society, allocating resources to provide for long range needs rather than only short term profitability, with a plan to become competitive, to stay in business, and to provide jobs.”—Dr. W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    4. 4. Point Two: The New Philosophy <ul><li>“Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age, created in Japan. We can no longer live with commonly accepted levels of delays, mistakes, defective materials, and defective workmanship. Transformation of Western management style is necessary to halt the continued decline of business and industry.”—Dr. W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    5. 5. Point Three: Cease Dependence On Mass Inspection <ul><li>“Eliminate the need for mass inspection as the way of life to achieve quality by building quality into the product in the first place. Require statistical evidence of built in quality in both manufacturing and purchasing functions. “ </li></ul>
    6. 6. Point Four: End Lowest Tender Contracts <ul><li>“ End the practice of awarding business solely on the basis of price tag. Instead require meaningful measures of quality along with price. Reduce the number of suppliers for the same item by eliminating those that do not qualify with statistical and other evidence of quality. The aim is to minimize total cost, not merely initial cost, by minimizing variation. This may be achieved by moving toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long term relationship of loyalty and trust. Purchasing managers have a new job, and must learn it.”—Dr. W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    7. 7. Point Five: Improve Every Process <ul><li>“ Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service. Search continually for problems in order to improve every activity in the company, to improve quality and productivity, and thus to constantly decrease costs. Institute innovation and constant improvement of product, service, and process. It is management’s job to work continually on the system (design, incoming materials, maintenance, improvement of machines, supervision, training, retraining).”—Dr. W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    8. 8. Point Six: Institute Training On the Job <ul><li>“Institute modern methods of training on the job for all, including management, to make better use of every employee. New skills are required to keep up with changes in materials, methods, product and service design, machinery, techniques, and service.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    9. 9. Point Seven: Institute Leadership <ul><li>“ Adopt and institute leadership aimed at helping people do a better job. The responsibility of managers and supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Improvement of quality will automatically improve productivity. Management must ensure that immediate action is taken on reports of inherited defects, maintenance requirements, poor tools, fuzzy operational definitions, and all conditions detrimental to quality.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    10. 10. Point Eight: Drive Out Fear <ul><li>“Encourage effective two-way communication and other means to drive out fear throughout the organization so that everybody may work effectively and more productively for the company.”—Dr. W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    11. 11. Point Nine: Break Down Barriers <ul><li>“Break down barriers between departments and staff areas. People in different areas, such as Leasing, Maintenance, Administration, must work in teams to tackle problems that may be encountered with products or service.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    12. 12. Point Ten: Eliminate Exhortations <ul><li>“Eliminate the use of slogans, posters and exhortations for the work force, demanding Zero Defects and new levels of productivity, without providing methods. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships; the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system, and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    13. 13. Point Eleven: Eliminate Arbitrary Numerical Targets <ul><li>“Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvement of quality and productivity .” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Point Twelve: Permit Pride Of Workmanship <ul><li>“Remove the barriers that rob hourly workers, and people in management, of their right to pride of workmanship. This implies, among other things, abolition of the annual merit rating (appraisal of performance) and of Management by Objective. Again, the responsibility of managers, supervisors, foremen must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    15. 15. Point Thirteen: Encourage Education <ul><li>“Institute a vigorous program of education, and encourage self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in knowledge.”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    16. 16. Point Fourteen: Top Management Commitment And Action <ul><li>“ Clearly define top management’s permanent commitment to ever improving quality and productivity, and their obligation to implement all of these principles. Indeed, it is not enough that top management commit themselves for life to quality and productivity. They must know what it is that they are committed to—that is, what they must do. Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the preceding 13 Points, and take action in order to accomplish the transformation. Support is not enough: action is required!”—W. Edward Deming </li></ul>
    17. 17. Thank You! This presentation is available at
    18. 18. <ul><li>Phil La Duke </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Performance Improvement </li></ul><ul><li>O/E </li></ul><ul><li>2125 Butterfield, Suite 300N </li></ul><ul><li>Troy, MI 48084 </li></ul><ul><li>248-860-1086 </li></ul>