Machine Safety Culture: Compliance versus cooperation driven

Employee safety compliance is a blend of hard physical restraints or barriers and a desire to follow a set of safety behaviors. But, compliance is interpreted by most as meeting the bare minimums. And, if employees don’t choose to accept or behave in the role “another” has found for them, they don’t have to play it. If so, how does a company develop or expand a safety culture to become best in class?


JB Titus, CFSEEmployee safety compliance is a blend of hard physical restraints or barriers and a desire to follow a set of safety behaviors. But, compliance is interpreted by most as meeting the bare minimums. And, if employees don’t choose to accept or behave in the role “another” has found for them, they don’t have to play it. If so, how does a company develop or expand a safety culture to become “best in class”?

Safety matters logo. 

Let’s look a little deeper at compliance versus cooperation. Compliance often means refusing to exercise our own power to choose because safety regulations, safety standards, or safety policies provide those appropriate measures. These directives are intended to issue both specific and general measures such that when followed, machine safety compliance can be realized. Most often within companies there will be a hand full of machine safety experts and they collectively possess the safety “know-how” for complete compliance. These safety experts are then responsible to establish the broad spectrum of safety culture activities and responsibilities to achieve safety compliance. The employees, in my opinion, are then asked to accept and behave in the role the “safety experts” have developed for them. When this process works, safety compliance can be achieved which means that these companies have met the bare minimums.

What more needs to be accomplished for “Best in Class”?

In my opinion, the safety culture of companies that achieve “Best in Class” are those companies that have developed a sense of organizational cooperation. Organizational cooperation means using our power together with others to achieve more than any of us can alone. Safety “know how” becomes systemic throughout the organization and this means top to bottom and bottom to top. I have found that when everyone within a company is looking for improvements in machine safety their collective power raises the bar above mere safety compliance. When this happens, employee moral improves and so does productivity and profits.

An historic case example is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Several construction employees had fallen to their deaths in the Golden Gate Straits so the chief engineer, Joseph B. Strauss, commissioned a net to be installed under the full span and ten feet wider on both sides. “Safety First” was adopted organizationally from top to bottom for all construction employees, moral dramatically improved, and the construction project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. 

Picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, a prime example of compliance and cooperation working together. 

This example shows dramatically how “cooperation” means more than mere “compliance”.

What is your opinion?

Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety Culture: Compliance versus cooperation driven.  

Related articles:

Machine Safety & Your Safety Culture! 

Machine Safety - Hard Guarding Is Best - Right?

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me