Feature Length

A Solution (R)evolution (Occupational Hazards; October 2006): Following more than fifty years of combined experience in risk management, and ten years of searching for a shared solution to the global loss problem, our founders have reached this disconcerting conclusion: multiple forms of individual, organizational, and market-imposed 'control' (of data and resources) driven by proprietary motives are the reasons for a lack of greater effectiveness in the safety profession.

Beware the Disconnect (Professional Safety; November 2005): National data confirm significant reductions in incident rates and lost-time compensable injuries over the past 10 years. Yet, the average cost of medical and indemnity claims continues to escalate. Workers' compensation renewal premiums are increasing, and corporate accrual accounts to fund incurred losses are hemorrhaging in many organizations. This 'disconnect' (measures in conflict with results) is pervasive, systemic and inherently fueled by the traditional measures employed to manage safety in the business process. This article examines the reality of this disconnect and discusses the disincentives traditional metrics create. Recommendations derived from actual experience are offered to reconnect effective safety (prevention) and loss (mitigation) practices and strategies. Cover/Feature article.

Note: This manuscript is a follow-up article to the 1995 article "CAUTION: Beware of OSHA Statistics." In 2008, the Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives opined on the problem of underreporting in a majority staff report titled "HIDDEN TRAGEDY: Underreporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses."

Passing a Safety CAT Scan (Occupational Safety and Health; October 2005): "None of us does anything so complex at the task level that it requires a department, silo, island, or smokestack. We think you get the gist."

Thoughts on the Profession...and Making a Difference (Occupational Hazards; January 2004): This article was applauded by approximately 20% of those who read it. The other 80% were made to feel very uncomfortable. The article was written after we received an email from a reader complaining about the impossibility of getting their job done without any support from "management." Our response - "Dissatisfied safety manager, it's time to heal thyself."

The Hidden Agenda (Professional Safety; May 1998): Published as a Feature Article in May 1998 within Professional Safety, Journal of the American Society of Safety EngineersThe Hidden Agenda forms a narrative basis for the design of Active Agenda and outlines methods for integrating safety into operations as a means of enhancing the prioritization of safety initiatives. Feature article.

CAUTION, Beware of OSHA Statistics (Professional Safety; October 1995): "CAUTION" was, and continues to be, viewed as a paradigm shifting perspective regarding the use of OSHA statistics to measure safety program performance. "CAUTION" suggests that OSHA statistics actually increase the severity (costs) of injuries. National award winning articleCited by Federal OSHA on the agency websiteRequests to reprint from ARCO Refineries and the US Paper Industry.

PROVOCATIVE ARTICLE: "Caution: Beware of OSHA Statistics" (PS, Dec 95, pp. 41-43) was one of the most provocative articles I have read in Professional Safety in quite some time. Within a few pages, Daniel Zahlis succinctly captured a philosophy that I have been teaching and trying to get across to management groups and safety professionals for years. His tie-in between new measurement philosophies and workers' compensation claims management will, hopefully, have the insurance industry buzzing. My Congratulations, both to the author and PS, for an insightful article with the potential to have real impact on safety and claims management systems in this country. ~ LARRY I. PERKINSON; Anderson, SC
BREATH OF FRESH AIR: "You should be commended for publishing Daniel Zahlis' outstanding article, "Caution: Beware of OSHA Statistics" (PS, Dec 95, pp. 41-43). What a breath of fresh air! For the past 25 years, I have been trying to get management to understand that the most important part of any safety program is to identify and correct unsafe behaviors and conditions. My efforts have been mostly to no avail. Slogans, incentive programs, banners, bulletin board displays, envelope stuffers, posters, etc., just don't work. Thoughtful attention to correction of injury causes - no matter how small - and attention to near misses, unsafe behaviors and unsafe conditions are the only ways to have a safe work environment. This will build safety consciousness into the workforce - without which no safety program can be truly successful. ~ DENNISON W. YORK; Fullerton, CA

Media Mentions

Source of freedom (INTHEBLACK; September 2007): INTHEBLACK is CPA Australia's flagship publication. De Bortoli Wines in Griffith, AU was an early adopter and supporter of Active Agenda. De Bortoli's IT Manager, Bill Robertson, was interviewed by INTHEBLACK. "Yet Robertson rattles on about multidimensional databases and operational risk-management software - applications generally associated with larger corporations." "De Bortoli's managing director is beginning to wish that Robertson wouldn't talk like this. Not because it tends to make you giddy, but because he's beginning to regard these projects as a substantial competitive advantage."

The Fresno Bee Interview (The Fresno Bee; May 2007): The Fresno Bee published an interview with Active Agenda founder Dan Zahlis. The article addresses some of the challenges faced by open source core teams and speaks to the growing popularity of open source software development.

The Business Journal Interview (The Business Journal; June 2006): "For me, open source is about speed to relationships, and speed to solutions - the kinds of relationships we want, and the kinds of solutions that generate measurable results."


Mindfulness (EHS Today; April 2009): "Most people don't recognize opportunity when it comes, because it's usually dressed in overalls and looks a lot like work." (Thomas Edison). This column discusses the concept of mindfulness and how Active Agenda can support companies implementing the five characteristics of mindfulness: Preoccupation with failureReluctance to simplifySensitivity to operationsCommitment to resilience; and, Deference to expertise.

Suggestions (EHS Today; January 2009): "If you actually read this, I suggest you pull your head out of your %$@#!" This column discusses the Suggestions module and how Active Agenda can help companies effectively share and implement ideas.

Hazardous Energy (Occupational Hazards; September 2008): "I'd gladly pay you three fingers Tuesday for a new dress today." This column shares our founder's frustration with safety professionals focused on after-the-fact (or amputation) compliance rather than proactive Hazardous Energy Control program management.

Incentives (Occupational Hazards; July 2008): "Let their paychecks be their incentive!" This column shares a past experience with a frustrated plant manager. The column reflects on some of the common reasons for failed incentive programs and discusses a "real world" encounter where an incentive program was transformed from a program motivating resentment to a program motivating performance.

Ergonomics (Occupational Hazards; June 2008): "Great milk comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California." This column discusses how Active Agenda can help organizations use job analyses, injury trending, suggestions, surveys, and hazard reporting to improve workplace ergonomics.

Inspections and Audits (Occupational Hazards; May 2008): "Who says elephants can't dance." These are the words of Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM during that company's turnaround. This column is about Inspections and Audits and how Active Agenda can help organizations build integrated processes. Our founder suggests that Active Agenda's Inspections and Audits module can be used to improve workforce expectations while improving business performance.

Communication (Occupational Hazards; March 2008): This column is about Active Agenda's underlying purpose (Communication), rather than one specific module. "Quality" can be an easily misunderstood term. Our founder uses the term as W. Edwards Deming intended it - "On time, and on spec, with the least amount of waste." This concept of quality applies to everything we encounter in the workplace. "If quality equals the results of work efforts divided by the total cost, what is the quality of your communication?" Our founder uses an early work experience to illustrate the importance of effective and efficient communication. He also illustrates how Active Agenda can enable the delivery of information in a format and manner subscribed to by each recipient. General methods of distributing information to the employee lunchroom, or company website, are also discussed.

Personal Protective Equipment (Occupational Hazards; February 2008): "Oh, so that's what an invisible barrier looks like." Personal Protective Equipment is the subject of this column. The Job Analyses, Hazard Abatement, and Controls module are discussed as tools capable of making personal protective equipment programs more effective. The article also mentions the importance of assigning personal protective equipment as a last resort and enforcing use policies when actual hazards justify enforcement. The Hazard Abatement and Controls modules are also useful for helping companies to adopt and comply with the ANSI Z10 Control Hierarchy.

Incident Response (Occupational Hazards; January 2008): "Unless it's an emergency, don't bother me after 6:00 pm and on weekends." The Incident Reporting and Response modules are the subject of this month's column. The Incident Response modules were designed to convert boiler plate response plans into dynamic, living documents. The modules helps organizations to maintain response plan currency while improving the performance of risk assessments, automating response plan contact lists, and ensuring that responsibilities don't "fall through the cracks" created by employee turnover.

Corrective Actions (Occupational Hazards; December 2007): "Three disciplinary actions, of ANY kind, will result in immediate termination, but get six and you're promoted to supervisor." The Corrective Actions module is the subject of this column. The Corrective Actions module was designed to help organizations measure the type, nature and frequency of disciplinary action across the enterprise. The module also helps organizations maintain consistency of policy by providing a central and accessible database of disciplinary history that can help to guide decision makers.

Trust Accounts (Occupational Hazards; November 2007): "The only thing better than having a problem solved, is having nobody to blame while it remains unsolved." The Trust Accounts Module is the subject of this column. It has nothing to do with the financial trusts most people are familiar with. The Trust Accounts module was designed to help organizations, help their employees, help themselves.

Gap Analysis (Occupational Hazards; September 2007): "Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the grunge rock band Nirvana, was fond of saying "We have no right to express an opinion until we have all the answers." Can I get a Hallelujah?!." Every auditor has an opinion - that's what they do. How many auditors have you encountered that leave you with automated solutions to problems they discover? The Gap Analysis?module is the subject of this column and it allows organizations to improve the process of evaluating processes. What makes this module unique from other auditing and analysis tools is it's design and distribution method.

Partnerships (Occupational Hazards; August 2007): "You like potato and I like potahto. You like tomato and I like tomahto. Potato, potahto! Tomato, tomahto! Let's call the whole thing off." What do tomatoes (or tomahtoes) have to do with operational risk? Quite a lot when you're trying to collaborate with people around the globe and the first step is understanding one another's languages AND nomenclatures. So what's a partnership?

Implementation Road Map (Occupational Hazards; July 2007): "Stephen Covey suggested that "the key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." This advice can be difficult to follow when priorities conflict." This column addresses the most common question we hear - "Where do we start?" With so many modules addressing topics that can span an enterprise, it can be challenging to know where to begin an implementation. The Implementation Road Map modules? were designed to solve this problem by helping organizations to prioritize their implementation. The column suggests a simple collaborative exercise that allows stakeholders in the risk control process to identify priorities from an organizational mindset.

Project Update (Occupational Hazards; June 2007): This column provides a short project update, as of July 2007. The column refers to some of Active Agenda's early participants from around the globe. From Antao, working at the base of an active volcano in Cape Verde, to Robbie at Boston University in the UK, to the forward thinking wine makers at De Bortoli Wines in Griffith, Australia. We were saddened to see Zsolt's participation excluded from the article but we hope to share his important contributions in a later column. Zsolt works for Raiffeisen Bank in Hungary and he has has provided invaluable feedback to the project. Our thanks to everyone that agreed to be mentioned in this article!

Chemicals and GHS (Occupational Hazards; May 2007): "Hazardous chemicals may endanger your employees and your community. Hazard communication compliance programs can increase these dangers while wasting your resources." This column suggests that hazard communications can be significantly improved by simplifying the MSDS management system. The column also refers to the Globally Harmonizing System for chemical classification and labeling as a method for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Chemical "Right to Know" compliance.

Hot Work Permits (Occupational Hazards; April 2007): "In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed." This column suggests that simple methods for generating hot work permits can improve the quality of hot work performance. The column suggests that maintenance and engineering departments are far more likely to use permits effectively if they are relevant to their work environment, easy to obtain, and designed as more than just another veiled attempt at compliance.

Values and Value Threats (Occupational Hazards; March 2007): "Many of us have been through the exercise of generating mission, vision and values statements. Even more of us have seen the abandonment of mission, vision and values as the realities of day-to-day business take over." This column suggests that organizational values are a key to operational success. The column suggests the use of a tracking system to capture and track threats to core values? as a means of improving performance and enhancing operating culture.

Hazard Reporting (Occupational Hazards; February 2007): "The difference between effective hazard abatement programs and those that consume gloves and fingers often is the system used to manage hazard reporting." This column provides details about the importance of effective hazard reporting and abatement.

Introduction to Active Agenda (Occupational Hazards; January 2007): This is the first column published by Occupational Hazards Magazine and provides details about what to expect in upcoming issues.