Gary Marsh

The following questions were developed to assist hiring managers in knowing the right questions to ask me. The questions are here to show the depth of my experience, analytical abilities, business acumen, and understanding of organizational behavior within the context of the practice of safety.

Training

Q: How do you verify that safety training given to employees was effective?

A: Some ways are to observe employees to verify that they are following the correct procedures, I question employees on certain aspects of the training, ask employees for feedback on ways to improve the training, and I also review near-miss incidents.

Q: What are some important factors to consider when designing or developing safety training?

A: The training should be developed with the target audience in mind (e.g., education and skill level, language comprehension). I try to keep all my training at the eighth grade level.

To the extent possible, safety training should be a major part of required job-related training. A company should have a thorough introduction program that could take as long as 5 days in order to present required information. This allows the new employee to comprehend the basics of working for XYZ Company and importance of safety.

Oh, an important note here is that all top managers must do a meet and greet during this induction. They should interject into the induction the importance in their words what safety means to them. When you have active involvement from top management, it really sets the stage for safety conscious employees.

Inspections and audits

Q: In performing safety inspections, what did you do when you found an employee violating a corporate safety policy?

A: The immediate focus is on stopping the employee’s behavior that violates the safety policy to protect the employee from potential harm.

Once I stop the employee, I use this time as a teachable moment. A coaching moment if you will. Let’s say the employee is in a noisy environment with no hearing protection. Instead of just telling the employee to put his/her ear plugs in, I make it personal to that person. Here is an abbreviated version of a conversation I might have:

“Joe, did you forget your earplugs? Here, I have an extra pair you can use. Joe, how’s your daughter Lucy doing? It’s great being a father, but even better being a grandfather. I know I have six grand kids… It’s great to have them over and spend time with them. Do, you want to have grand kids someday Joe? Yeah? How about being about to hear those cute little laughs and sweet little voices? Well Joe, if you want to be able to enjoy those cute little laughs when you get to be a grandfather, you really need to pay close attention to protecting your hearing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

I have found that 99% of the time, the reason our employees break policy is because they have seen our supervisor’s break policy. I’ve came to this conclusion by handing out simple survey’s to our employees during weekly safety meetings. Sometimes it’s just a one question survey and other times it can be up to five questions. I never make my survey’s to long because I want max participation to get a better sample.

Q: How did you use the information collected during safety audits?

A: The first thing I do after a safety audit is organize and prioritize the results. Once I have a good idea as to what needs addressed, I develop a plan to address each discrepancy with a timeline. I will examine the audit looking for any trends and breakdowns in the safety program. Depending on the scope of the audit, I would assign responsibility to a team of supervisors to handle specific portions of the audit. I would meet with them on predetermined bases for progress reports. I would also invite senior management to the meeting so they can be in the loop. Each week, I would email out to all top managers an update on the status of the project.

Problem solving

Q: How would you respond to a report from an employee that one of his coworkers only wears required head protection when you are in the area?

A: The first thing I would want to do is to make sure the employee is corrected immediately to prevent further risk. This would also make me question what other policies are being broken. So, I would verify that other employees are following procedure and then try to use peer pressure to correct the problem of the employee not wearing head protection. I would approach individuals who have buy-in to the safety program and work with them to change the employee’s mindset about safety.

I would also make sure to cover head protection over the next few toolbox talks as well as add to the next safety meeting. In that meeting, I would show some diluted outcomes of not wearing proper head protection. Lastly, I’d take a look at training and see if there needed to be anything updated and added.

Metrics

Q: How do you calculate an organization’s incidence rates using the OSHA 300 Log?

A: I have a personal excel spreadsheet that calculates many different items. Essentially, as incidents occur, I populate the spreadsheet and as I do, the spreadsheet updates an OSHA 300 log and 300A. I also use this spreadsheet to track and calculate incident rates using the standard calculation:

(Number of injuries and illnesses X 200,000 hours) / Employee hours worked = Incidence rate

The 200,000 hours in the formula represents the equivalent of 100 employees working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, and provides the standard base for the incidence rates.

This is a personal spreadsheet and I do not share it with companies as I would lose proprietary rights. It’s my leg up against the competition. I can track everything from non-recordable to recordable and I can even do trend analysis. Stuff like, what day of the week to which part of the body gets injured the most. It’s a great little tool.

Q: Give some examples of leading indicators used to measure safety performance.

A: Some great leading indicators to measure safety performance would be number of audits completed, number of audits line items closed out, and number of employees trained. Another great little tool is employee surveys like the ones I mentioned earlier. One of the best ways to gauge safety performance is by trending and tracking all incidents and accidents no matter how small. This will give you an accurate number of where your employees are at in regards to safety. You can use this information to tailor the safety program.

Accident investigations

Q: I have been told that an accident investigation does not end when an employee admits that the accident in question was caused by his or her failure to follow a corporate safety rule. Do you agree with that statement? If so, why?

A: Yes I agree. An investigation is not to identify or lay blame. The investigation is used to identify root causes. The employee may have been encouraged to directly or even indirectly not follow procedure. We don’t know until complete and thorough questioning has occurred. A lot of times, employees will perceive that they need to cut corners in order to meet unrealistic deadlines. Policy or procedures may be outdated and may pose to be the most important contributing cause.

Communication, awareness and motivation

Q: How do you keep your employees involved in your safety program?

A: I’ve used many different ways to keep employees involved. Some of the best ways I’ve used are pre and post job meetings (toolbox Talks), one-on-one coaching, and weekly safety meetings. I also like getting input from employees on what they would like to hear about in regards to safety. And when I gather up all employees for weekly safety meetings, I like to have a lot of interaction. I do this by getting volunteers to get up and speak about a topic and I also ask a lot of questions.

Oh, another really cool deal to implement is to have a game of jeopardy or who wants to be a millionaire. That’s my favorite as it really gets a lot of participation from everyone in the meeting.

Q: How do you gain support for your safety program from managers?

A: I have found that most managers like numbers. So, what I like to do to gain support is to educate them on the impact of accidents. How one incident can impact the direct and indirect cost of production and profits; training replacement workers and how it even impacts the reputation of a company.

I also think you will gain even more support from management by keeping them updated with information. Let them know through reports, email and one-on-one conversations exactly what’s going on in regards to safety within the organization.

Business acumen

Q: How do you integrate safety into the day-to-day operations of your business?

A: Safety should be an integral part of all operations. You should have complete management buy-in and safety should never be thought of as a separate program. In other words, it should be intertwined into every single aspect of business. It should be talked about first thing in the morning then monitored throughout the day. All jobs should have safety woven into regular job-related inspections.

Q: How would you make a case for your organization to invest in safety equipment that, though not required by law, you believe will reduce accidents?

A: Tough question. First thing I would have to do is figure out the return on investment. I would have to plead my case to justify the cost by building up the anticipated savings from the investment. I could look at passed companies to figure in the cost savings as well as looking at incidents and the cost associated with them.

Legal requirements:

Q: What is the OSHA general duty clause?

A: All employers must ensure that their place of employment is free from recognized hazards that could cause serious harm or death to employees.

Q: Where would you look to find the federal OSHA regulations?

A: OSHA.gov covers 29 CFR 1910 General Industry), 1915, 1917, 1918 (Marine), and 1926 (Construction Industry).

Q: What is the hazard communication standard?

A: That would be covered in 29 CFR 1910.1200. I just got through creating a local operating instruction to cover this standard. It covers labeling, warning signs, MSDS right to know and what needs to go in to a hazard communications program.

Q: Which work-related injuries and illnesses must be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log?

A: Work related injuries and illnesses would include: death, lost time incident, restricted work case, and medical treatment beyond first aid.

Q: When must you post the OSHA 300 Summary Work-related Injuries and Illnesses?

A: February 1 – April 30.

Q: How long must you keep the OSHA 300 Log and Summary on file?

A: 5 Years

Q: Do you have to send the OSHA 300 Log and Summary forms to OSHA at the end of the year?

A: No. You only have to send the completed forms when asked to do so by OSHA.
Strategic thinking

Q: What are the keys to successfully managing safety at multiple facilities?

A: In developing a multi-site program, the objectives are to identify any unique hazards, risks, or potential barriers associated with particular locations based on work processes, operations, equipment, facility layout or location, skill set of employees, potential language or cultural barriers. You will need to involve local employees in the program design; and to the extent possible, take a systems approach to managing safety. Once the program is in place, some key activities are to build relationships with local management, set clear expectations, set goals and objectives, share best practices, communicate regularly, use technology where possible, regularly audit, and report location-specific safety metrics to relevant business managers.

Organizational synergism

Q: What role do safety professionals play in corporate social responsibility and sustainability?

A: Mounting evidence suggests that incorporating the principles of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development into organizational decision-making processes has fundamentally changed the way business is being conducted. Driven in large part by consumer and investor demand, organizations’ business strategies now commonly consider the impact of corporate activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, and other stakeholders. This has led to new approaches to problem solving, redefined corporate priorities, reallocated budgets, and redesigned staffing responsibilities.

These changes have significant ramifications for safety management. Occupational safety and health is generally categorized as part of an organization’s commitment to social responsibility. Several key safety indicators are included as part of the leading global sustainability indices.

Safety professionals must drive safety sustainability efforts by ensuring that their organizations recognize that the safety, health, and well-being of workers, customers, and neighboring communities are among the primary considerations in any business practices, operations or development. Safety professionals also need a good working knowledge of environmental issues related to sustainability, key sustainability metrics, and the key drivers of sustainability.

Organizational culture

Q: What steps would you take if you were told by several employees that safety is an afterthought in the current culture of the organization?

A: One of the first steps is to get a better understanding of the situation by measuring organizational culture or climate through employee assessments or surveys that incorporate safety concerns.

If you verify problems with the safety program through these assessment tools, an immediate plan of action should be developed to help reset the culture. The plan should include: gaining support and involvement of the entire senior management team, a detailed analysis of the current safety program (including audits), discussions with employees pinpointing lapses in the safety program or asking for their input on how to improve it, employee and management training or re-training, and a communication and awareness program to keep safety in the front of the minds of employees.

Understanding business

Q: What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and how might it affect the organization’s safety program?

A: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 ―generally was designed to protect investors by ensuring corporate responsibility, public disclosure, and improving the quality and transparency of financial reporting and auditing (29 CFR 1980).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have responsibility for investigating complaints and enforcing the whistleblower provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley related to workplace safety and health regulations.

The whistleblower provisions would apply if it is alleged that an employer retaliates against an employee by taking unfavorable personnel action because the employee engaged in protected activity. Such activities could include any related to workplace safety and health.

Analytical skills

Q: With regard to low probability/high impact events, how do you overcome complacency by senior management and the “let’s deal with the issue later” mentality?

A: The key is to convince senior management that there are cost-effective ways to mitigate low probability/high impact events. These events present real risks and should be incorporated into the organization’s safety program. Senior managers should be educated on the typical causes of low probability/high impact events (from the accident/incident history from the organization, from within their industry, or from other industries that perform similar tasks) and ways to address these deficiencies. Analyzing low probability/high impact events will allow senior managers to better understand the need for the development of new processes and controls and the importance of their involvement in oversight and management of the program.

Q: In a recent survey, senior corporate financial decision makers indicated that more/better safety training was their most preferred safety-related intervention. How would you respond to this statement?

A: The most important safety intervention will depend on the situation at hand. Safety training plays an important role, but training alone will not prevent accidents. From a technical standpoint, OSHA Hierarchy of Controls evaluates how to determine the best safety intervention. The Hierarchy is used to identify the best methods for eliminating or controlling hazards.

The Hierarchy is as follows:

Engineering – directly eliminating a hazard (the most effective control)
Administrative – limiting exposure to hazards (example: training)
Work practices – hazard control programs, rules, policies, safe work practices, etc.
Personal protective equipment – to protect the employee from the exposure