Editorial: Taking A Minute for Safety

February
,
2019
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In October 2018, TJ Larkin, cofounder of Larkin Communication Consulting, reached out to me with a new idea for CEP: a column that could be displayed and discussed at the safety briefings held at the beginning of almost every team meeting in the chemical process industries (CPI).

Larkin was the author of the August 2018 article “Use Scare Tactics to Communicate Major Incidents,” pp. 39–45. If you have not read this article, I highly encourage you to take a look. In it, Larkin and coauthor Renato Prestes explain how communication that includes a frightening image is the best way of making sure a process safety incident is not repeated.

Another way that companies strive to prevent process safety incidents is by incorporating safety into the culture of the workplace. Many companies, including AIChE, require that all major staff meetings begin with a safety briefing. However, many staff members — unaccustomed to having to speak about safety — struggle to find good topics to discuss.

Safety briefings can lack professionalism, and can devolve into managers telling their employees to “hold handrails when using the stairs” or to “wear a seatbelt when driving to work.” Busy schedules and overwhelming workloads make it difficult for leaders to prepare for safety discussions. “They want to say something important about safety, but they don’t have content that is research-based, short, easy to display, and easy to discuss at a meeting,” says Larkin.

With that in mind, CEP’s newest quarterly column, “Safety Minute,” was born. This year, it will run in the February, May, August, and November issues.

The column is intended to have a different look from the rest of the magazine, with larger fonts, less text on the page, and simple images. We want the column to be easy to read and understand — so that a manager at the front of a meeting room can display it and team members at the back of the room will get the message.

At its core, Safety Minute is about people and human behavior. It stands apart from our other safety columns that mainly deal with processes and equipment. And, unlike our longer safety features, Safety Minute can be easily presented and explained to a large audience in only a few minutes. Even if you are not involved in a specific process train, the intention is that you will be able to learn something from Safety Minute and apply it to your work. Many process safety incidents are rooted in human behavior.

Now, turn to page 27 to read our newest column. We hope you find Safety Minute useful for your meetings and discussions.

Emily Frangenberg, Managing Editor

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