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Making employees part of the plan.

Total quality management (TQM) is the latest business talisman sweeping the nation as a panacea for remaining competitive in today's rapidly changing world economy. While it cannot work miracles, it can make a difference for security managers who follow its precepts.

TQM requires management to involve all levels of employees in a continuous effort to improve operations - the cornerstone of any quality-based management method. The implications of this approach are best understood by illustration.

Consider workplace accidents. No other security concern yields more measurable and immediate positive effects to the profitability of an organization than the reduction of employee injuries. Rising employee health care costs and associated litigation have become a major drain on American business.

Applying TQM in five strategic ways can enhance a company's loss control program. The five points are measurement, data analysis, intervention, tracking, and standardization.

Measurement. Primary to any loss reduction effort is a measurement system. With the vast amount of time security managers spend documenting accidents, they already have a wealth of information, but the information may not lend itself to easy analysis. Security operations using a narrative report-writing style should adopt a format of blocks that note specific information.

The information needed includes location, time, day of the week, activity engaged in at the time of the accident, employee's job title, employee training, and length of service.

Many companies have extensive employee accident reporting procedures in place. All employers are required by federal health and safety regulations to maintain a log of employee injuries. The log may serve as a starting point if the company needs to investigate prior employee accidents that occurred.

Insurance carriers may be an additional source of information. Many workers' compensation insurance carriers can provide a loss run, detailing each reported employee injury.

Data analysis. Prior to conducting a statistical analysis, the security manager should assemble as much data as possible. Covering a two-to-three year period is reasonable. Once all the factors involved in each accident are sorted, certain trends will emerge.

As the manager compiles and cross-references the data, he or she should target injuries most often resulting in a loss to the company. These are typically soft tissue strains, such as a pulled back. They are difficult to prove or disprove and leave the employee out of work for extended periods of time. Often these injuries are the result of slips and falls or improper lifting.

Once the most costly type of injury is identified, the analysis should focus on those cases. The security manager should look for trends in location, and other nearby activity. He or she should closely study the individual employee involved in the accident. If possible, the employee and any witnesses should be interviewed to identify unreported probable causes. Although individually a single piece of information may not seem important or relevant, collectively these bits and pieces often tell a valuable story.

Employee safety training, which is a requirement in many states, must also be closely examined. Was an employee trained in the activity he or she was engaged in at the time of the injury? Was the employee aware of any associated risks related to the activity? Have all risks involved in the workplace been analyzed with appropriate documentation and training for each task?

A computer database of incidents can ease the analysis process. Many inexpensive database and graphing software programs are available. With these programs, selected fields of data can be quickly assembled, sorted, and cross-referenced.

Intervention techniques. Now that the approximate causes or categories of accidents have been identified, the security manager must develop techniques that prevent the accidents from recurring. Unlike former systems of management, TQM requires the input of all levels of employees.

Development and implementation of corrective action begins with the formation of a quality improvement team. The group should consist of interested employees and those workers who have specific expertise in the activities under study. One person should be selected to facilitate the team's meetings. That individual should only assist employees in walking through problem solving and should not influence the content of the discussions.

The process should be formatted as follows:

* Identify the specific problem, such as employee injuries

* Review the information from the data analysis

* Devise an action plan that eliminates the cause of the problem or reduces its effect

* Implement the action plan

* Evaluate the implementation and plan effectiveness

* Standardize the effective changes

* Promulgate the solution

The improvement team should meet on a weekly basis or as needed until the action plan is fully deployed. By having employees directly involved with the action plan, it will be theirs. This will increase their acceptance of and adherence to the plans.

Tracking. A monthly reporting system must be developed to track the effectiveness of the efforts. Reports allow management to track the results of the action plans developed by the employee team. The security manager should compile a monthly statistical report, highlighting trends in employee accidents. The report will reveal any changes to the loss profile, alerting management to the need for appropriate preventive action.

Many businesses use similar reports to follow annual trends, such as particular accident occurrences during specific times of the year. Over time, managers can develop preventive steps to reduce losses from seasonally recurring events.

Standardization. When an action plan is successfully implemented, the new methods should be standardized. Standardization makes it easier to apply the new practices to other issues. In this way, others can benefit when solutions are found.

The goal of each loss control program should be to minimize all losses. A successful new approach or an innovative new method should be shared within and outside of the organization. This can be done through staff meetings, newsletters, and professional organizations.

TQM's benefits are best seen by example. Consider one company which chose to take aggressive steps to control the rising costs of workers' compensation claims in 1991. It specifically targeted its region encompassing California and Hawaii due to the extensive workers' compensation benefits in those states.

California and Hawaii are two states where work-related stress is considered a compensative illness under state workers' compensation laws. Medical groups and law firms spend millions of dollars annually in those states advertising their services to employees who feel they have suffered from a stressful work-related environment. Settlements that result from such lawsuits have driven several large employers out of California to states with more equitable policies regarding employee claims. The company in this example, which has seven units operating in the West, experienced a general rise in the number and severity of employee injuries. Fortunately, the business already had a reporting system in place, which made data covering its losses easily accessible.

In January of 1992, a thorough review of all employee accidents over the previous three years was conducted. Special attention was given to 1991 since it offered the most current trends.

During 1991, the region targeted had approximately 3,000 employees and experienced 635 employee accidents. The loss history of all seven units within the region was closely examined to establish a cause-and-effect performance for each property.

Slips and falls in each location were responsible for lost time from work. The average incident cost to the employer for such accidents was $4,000. These injuries accounted for approximately 20 percent of each unit's overall loss experience. With this in mind, the company started an aggressive, focused campaign to eliminate these accidents.

A study was conducted at the property that experienced the most slip-and-fall accidents. Each employee who had been involved in a slip and fall was interviewed concerning the details of his or her accident. The accident reports were reviewed, and the location of each occurrence was marked on a map of the property. Day of the week and other applicable criteria were closely examined.

The information revealed that the plurality of the slips, which resulted in the majority of total costs, occurred in a relatively small area. The loss control program was then focused on the problem area and the employees working in the area. Quality improvement teams were formed. Among the solutions implemented were warning signs, posted at all entrances, and spill stations, set up as easily accessible storage areas for mops and other clean-up equipment.

This increased employee awareness and the action taken eliminated slips and falls in that location. Surprisingly, the success in this area of the property had a rippling effect that greatly reduced slips and falls in other divisions of this thirty-five acre site.

With this initial success, management took the program to all other properties in the region. Each unit enjoyed the same success and slip-and-fall injuries were eliminated as a loss prevention concern for the entire region.

After this successful start on a regional level, each other cause of insurable loss was studied and the same technique applied. With few exceptions, each area and category of loss was greatly reduced.

The company also recorded incidents chronologically to analyze the statistics from that perspective. Because the company's business was seasonal, the region targeted noted that it experienced a sharp increase in losses during the month of June. Using this data, it chose June to be the annual safety month with many activities to increase employee awareness during that month. This intervention resulted in a 50 percent reduction in losses during that month.

By using the principles of TQM, the seven unit region in this case study reduced reported injuries by 115, or 18 percent, during 1992. The associated savings in direct costs alone will be considerable. The overall improvement in employee morale will also reap enormous benefits for the company.

Kevin A. Kruse is the corporate director of loss prevention for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Atlanta. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kruse, Kevin A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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