Safety Perception Survey Provides Baseline for Safety Improvement

When a series of close calls led to two serious injuries at Lane Electric Cooperative, leaders realized their safety culture wasn’t as strong as they had thought.

Rick Crinklaw, general manager of the Eugene, Oregon-based electric co-op, vowed to personally take control of safety and engage with Caterpillar Safety Services to assess Lane Electric’s safety culture and map a plan for improvement.

Through a company-wide Safety Perception Survey (SPS), which measures employees’ attitudes and beliefs about how safety is managed within their organization, Lane Electric employees were invited to share their true feelings about how safety stacks up against other business priorities.

“What I found from the survey was that the approach I was taking in response to those injuries was being counterproductive,” Crinklaw said. “The employees wanted to be engaged. They wanted to be contributors to the solution, rather than subjects of a top-down approach to making the situation better.”

Crinklaw engaged employees to turn low-scoring survey categories into improvement projects. Employees representing all areas of the organization joined small continuous improvement (CI) teams and participated in Rapid Improvement Workshops (RIW) to build measurable processes for more effective safety meetings, office/jobsite inspections and operating procedures.

Prior to engaging in Caterpillar’s improvement process, Lane Electric routinely experienced annual lost time incident rates of 6.0 or higher. Its annual Days Away, Restricted and Transferred (DART) rate regularly topped 8.0. Both of those figures have steadily improved since engaging with Caterpillar, even reaching zero in recent years. What’s more, this year the cooperative’s experience modification rate, a figure insurance companies use to calculate policy premiums, is at its lowest in Lane Electric’s history.

“If your organization is truly committed to doing whatever it takes to keep people safe, the person in my position has to tell himself ‘It doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is how the employees feel,’” Crinklaw said, “I am incredibly proud that they asked for, and created, change.”

When a series of close calls led to two serious injuries at Lane Electric Cooperative, leaders realized their safety culture wasn’t as strong as they had thought. So they turned to Caterpillar Safety Services.

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Safety Perception Survey

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