For over 30 years, the DEKRA Safety In Action® conference has connected people who are passionate about safety improvement, team engagement, and exposure reduction technology. As registration begins for the 2020 conference, we had a conversation about where the conference is headed with Stan Owens, Principal Consultant at DEKRA OSR and conference content leader.
The theme this year is NextGen Safety Performance. Safety In Action originally began with a focus on behavior-based safety. How has it evolved? Where is safety going?
The conference has grown as our understanding of safety has grown. In the ’90s, we learned that the highest-performing organizations using behavior-based safety (BBS) had the most effective engagement from leadership. The conference broadened to include leadership, then serious injury and fatality exposure, neuroscience, and industrial ergonomics today. All that change has been inspired by need and to bring a holistic approach to safety.
Today, we’re at a new frontier with respect to data. In the past, BBS users would struggle with using their data effectively. Innovations in safety software allow us to analyze data in real time, making action planning far more intuitive.
We use the term “holistic approach” a lot. Can you elaborate on that?
The first thing that a newcomer will learn is that there’s more to safety than policies and procedures. Approximately 80% of the attendees use some kind of behavior-based safety or BBS. BBS works, but it takes collaboration from top to bottom to be as successful as you can be, essentially all levels working together.
Exposure is broader than policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are just the beginning. If you didn’t have them, and you wanted to protect yourself from injury, you would look at things you needed to do to protect yourself—you’d change your behavior, which is the beginning of BBS. After you’ve changed your behavior, you still need an awareness of exposure to work safely. And over time, you learn how all the elements of the workplace affect each other. To be safe as possible, all those elements have to work together, focused on safety.
Does this change why people attend the conference?
It does. The focus used to be peer-to-peer, and it was mostly people on the shop floor. It used to be unusual to see a manager at the conference. Now you might see a CEO in a session or walking through the showcase area.
74% of the leadership summit attendees stay for the rest of the conference. They meet with their people, hear what their teams and their peers are learning. Their people know that their leaders’ time is valuable to them and when they see that they’re focusing it on safety, they know how serious they are. It matters emotionally and it matters authoritatively.
What can someone get out of the conference that they can’t get online, or at work?
I’ve always looked at the conference as extended learning. You can put a safety process in place, but that’s just the beginning. At the conference, they’re learning from experts at DEKRA along with hundreds of organizations and thousands of attendees. Safer workplaces can be a competitive advantage, but people at the conference are focused on keeping people safe regardless of what badge they wear. You can’t buy that kind of connection, that kind of learning, anywhere.
I’ve seen people hanging out after the conference sessions at local restaurants still talking about safety. There was one night, my wife and I were on our way to dinner, and I kept getting stopped by people asking if they could talk to me about something, I’d presented earlier that day. After the third or fourth person, my wife said to me, “This is like a cult. We’re never going to get to dinner!” I laughed. People at the conference are just eager to learn. We went out the back way to dinner.
Visit our site to learn more about the 2020 Safety in Action Conference. See you in Nashville!