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By: Stacey Godbold
Business Development Manager

What Do You Do When Unsafe Behavior Is Normalized?

What would you do if you just joined a company as the new safety manager, and you knew that none of your predecessors lasted more than one year each on the job? 

Three years ago, that’s exactly the situation one of my recent podcast guests was in. 

My guest had his doubts. “Many people have failed here,” he told me that he remembered thinking. “Am I going to succeed? Was this the right move for me? Am I going to turn this place around?” 

Well, good news, my guest, Jean Ndana, has now been at his job for three and a half years! So, kudos to him! 

Not that it was easy. Indeed, on Jean’s second week on the job, an employee fell into a vat of sulfuric acid and died. 

That day, even though Jean was afraid, he convinced himself that, since he—not someone else—was the successful candidate chosen for the job, that meant that he was up to the task. 

Jean is the Regional Environment Health and Safety Manager for MST, a global manufacturing company that makes boiler tubes, mechanical tubes, and pressure pipes for various industries. 

Three years ago, Jean’s change in mindset paralleled the change in mindsets that he needed to encourage in his fellow workers. Specifically, as he discussed in our chat, many of the workers at the factory didn’t really want to change. They’d been working that way for years. And they had the scars to prove it. But they were still resistant to change. 

To learn how Jean transformed safety at his worksite, you’ll have to listen to the whole episode. But I want to share two of the main takeaways that I was so pleased to hear Jean talk about. Here they are (by the way, these are the first two steps to answering the question posed by the title of this article): 

(1) Safety Assessment — Where Are We Now? 

First, Jean started with an assessment of every safety concern at his employer. 

(2) Safety Vision — Where Do We Want To Go? 

Second, based on his findings, he collaborated with his team to create a vision of where they wanted the safety culture to be in the future.  

I really appreciate the brilliance and simplicity of those two steps. Also, I really appreciate my guest, Jean, who you can connect with here on LinkedIn.

Thanks for reading. And be sure to check out our episode and let me know your thoughts! 

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