In Part 1 & Part 2 of this series we covered the definition and importance of management walkarounds as well some advice on how to conduct them effectively. In this last article of the series we’ll look at some additional implementation tips and challenges and conclude with a summary of the overall process.
There are several factors work observers should remember to include, as well as some factors to avoid, during any walkaround. Table 1 lists some of those I’ve found most critical.
Like anything worth doing, management must maintain its commitment and provide ongoing leadership to ensure long-term success. Good intentions are not enough. The author’s experience suggests a minimum set of management actions to ensure continuing walkaround effectiveness.
Although the walkaround concept is relatively simple, implementation and sustainability, have their challenges. In my experience, there are several such challenges that should be expected and prepared for to ensure successful implementation.
Managers have an obligation to understand how safely the work they are responsible for is performed. Lack of such an understanding has been a recurrent and principle factor in recent tragedies from the Columbia and Challenger disasters to the Deepwater Horizon and Texas City Refinery debacles. A genuine understanding of safety performance cannot be achieved from behind a desk and cannot be delegated. Nor can this understanding be gained through traditional compliance inspections that focus on conditions or some predetermined subset of behaviors. A deeper understanding of the work, and the systems and processes that support it (or not), is needed and should be the principle goal of work-focused walkaround programs.
Many organizations, such as DuPont, consider walkarounds the single most important activity their managers can do to promote safety. Walkarounds are not, however, a silver bullet. They are most effective in an overall safety effort that is managed like any other essential organizational objective. If safety isn’t addressed in a successful management framework (e.g., plan, do, study, act), any activity, regardless of its value, is likely to fail. With an effective management system andcommitment, however, management walkarounds are a proven method to help bring exceptional safety results to any organization.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on on the Safety Cary blog and has been republished with permission.
Loud’s more than 40 years of safety experience includes work with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is a regular presenter at national and international safety conferences and the author of numerous papers and articles. Mr. Loud is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and a retired Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM). He holds a BBA from the University of Memphis, an MS in Environmental Science from the University of Oklahoma and an MPH in Occupational Health and Safety from the University of Tennessee.