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Assessing Culture and Removing Organizational Barriers

A large beef processing company contacted CoreAdvantage for help in addressing a lockout issue at one of their Midwest processing plants. They reported that they were struggling with their maintenance staffs’ compliance with lockout. The site was experiencing an employee termination for the violation of LOTO every other month for the past two years. The site employs 2,400 employees. The collective bargaining agent representing the employees is the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.


Leadership & Culture Shift to Develop Responsibility & Accountability

This is a large unionized beef processing plant were at times the labor relations have been strained. In general maintaining a consistent high level of safety in the beef processing industry is difficult. The industry is notorious for safety issues to include taking short cuts in order to relieve production pressures. The task at this site was to determine the extent of noncompliance with LOTO, identify the barriers that were driving it and implement solutions to achieve compliance.


Culture Assessment & Culture Change Process

A perception survey was designed from insights provided by management and UFCW. The survey solicited data on the extent of noncompliance for the responder and for his/her co-workers to include supervisors and managers. A series of private focus sessions were held with the entire maintenance staff. A general discussion was held seeking input surrounding LOTO and then the survey instrument was administered.

Results indicated a much higher rate of non-compliance then was thought. Numerous reasons were discovered. Based on these results the SafePath Culture Change Workshop was conducted for the entire management and union leadership teams in addition to the maintenance department. The workshop consists of a process that focused the group on the very real possible consequences for their actions (injuries and fatalities). Reasons for the non-compliance were identified in addition to solutions for each barrier. Larger organizational barriers to safety excellence were also identified and buy-in for the change was created. At the end, participants understood and accepted the need for change. A specific action plan to enable full compliance was created. Based on the team building exercises the group experienced what is was like to work collaboratively together and were motivated to continue.

Summary of Tools Used

SafePath Culture Assessment Instrument – to identify issues and barriers

SafePath Culture Change Workshop – to develop solutions and shift culture and perceptions


Alignment & 100% Compliance within 30 Days

Immediately coming out of the SafePath Culture Change Workshop the group worked together to eliminate the identified barriers to LOTO. As a result full compliance resulted. As of a year later there have been no known LOTO violations.

Lessons Applied

Leadership & Culture Shift to Develop Responsibility & Accountability

Once a group became grounded with the very real potential consequences of their at-risk behavior (in this case potential fatalities and disabling injuries) and the barriers to safe performance are eliminated, compliance with established procedures was created quickly and was sustained. This case shows the power that safety and health has on bring two diverse and sometimes conflicted groups together in a common cause that both place high value on.