COLAS USA, a national leader in infrastructure construction and maintenance, has more than 5,500 employees working out of 50 offices throughout 25 states. Using a traditional approach to safety management, the organization has made year-over-year improvements. However, COLAS USA strives for excellence, especially in terms of safety performance, so in 2015 company leaders decided to drive for world-class performance.
Jean Vidal, then-CEO of COLAS USA, led eight subsidiary companies to embark on a journey toward “Colas Goal Zero” – using the process Caterpillar Safety Services (CSS) developed to achieve a safety culture transformation and world-class results. Current CEO John Harrington continues to lead COLAS USA on this journey.
Delta has embraced the philosophy and actions of the Colas Goal Zero Process. We have established a Delta Safety Steering Team, consisting of employees representing a cross-section of our company, including front-line employees, supervisors, and managers. Specific safety performance initiatives are developed and implemented through Continuous Improvement (CI) Teams under the guidance of the Delta Safety Steering Team.
Most of the members of the CI Teams are hourly front-line employees. Why? Incident investigation data reveals more than 90% of injuries are caused by at-risk behaviors, rather than hazardous conditions on the worksite. Since, front-line employees work closest to the at-risk behaviors, they are also the closest to a solution to avoid those behaviors.
The role of the Delta Safety Steering Team and CI Teams is to define specific activities within leading indicator processes (safety meetings, new hire orientations, near-miss incidents, safe operating processes, inspections, observation programs, training, etc.) for every employee. These activities connect all levels of the company and are designed to create a continual presence of safety. To date, the Delta Safety Steering Team has launched eight employee-driven CI Teams to build and/or review the specific processes to improve our safety culture.
Accountability is key to driving change. When we all know what the goal is, how each of us can directly impact it, and how to tell if we are making progress, we are much more likely to engage in the process. Measuring the quality of proactive leading indicator safety processes that front-line employees, supervisors, and managers are completing gives a prediction of the desired outcomes (better injury statistics). The activities developed by the CI Teams were designed to transform unwanted behaviors, beliefs, and norms through new and improved processes, and to gain engagement throughout the ranks for desired behaviors, beliefs, and norms.
The Delta Safety Steering Team members developed five “key messages” they believe build trust, define goals, explain the process, involve people, drive accountability, and celebrate achievements in each safety activity recommended by a CI Team. Those key messages are:
- Go Home Safe. Everyone. Every day.
- Be Heard. Communication lets us address concerns and celebrate successes.
- Work Together. Reach Goal Zero for a better culture.
- You Drive Change.
- Trust is a Must. From the senior leader to the newest hire.
Leaders throughout the company at every level consistently demonstrate their intentions with actions to positively influence the attitudes, beliefs, and ideas of their co-workers with the goal of eliminating at-risk behaviors.
The slogan at the Delta Companies Inc. is “Safety / Our Way of Life,” and it is truly becoming so.