By Randy Logsdon
R&D is commonly known throughout business and industry as an abbreviation for Research and Development. We have visions of scientists in white lab coats and glasses testing prototype products or performing laboratory experiments. In mine safety (especially mine safety training) R&D is better known as Rip-off and Duplicate – a testament to the adage that there are no trade secrets in safety.
Over recent years, DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) has come of age (especially in forensics) in identifying people. The term DNA fingerprint is commonly used. In fact, DNA has surpassed fingerprinting as the more reliable method of identification.
DNA was first discovered in 1869 by Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher. As early as 1927, it was proposed that this DNA was linked to inherited traits. In 1952, DNA’s role in heredity was confirmed by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase. Briefly, in biological reproduction, the genetic information contained in each parent’s DNA combine to produce a unique individual with a unique DNA signature but still containing attributes (provided by the DNA) traceable to each of the parents.
On May 2 of this year, Dr. Ted Boyce, a psychologist and president of the Center for Behavioral Safety, LLC presented a keynote address at the New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference at Socorro, N.M. In his talk, Mind Matters! Using Psychology as a Guide on Your Path to Success, Dr. Boyce suggested that the application of R&D (Rip-off and Duplicate) as it is used in safety may be misguided. Instead, he suggested an alternative that he labeled DNA – Duplicate as Necessary and Analyze. I was intrigued by Dr. Boyce’s concept and after the session asked if I could expand on the concept for the purpose of publication. He agreed.
For years we’ve justified the R&D approach to safety under the philosophy of not reinventing a process or system that already works. Safety folks are willing to share their goods for the benefit of improved safety throughout the industry. Take that system that works over there, slap our name on it and we’ll use it here. Sometimes that works. Often it flops.
So consider a slightly different approach. Dr. Boyce says go ahead and investigate the systems and processes used successfully in other organizations. Accept a freely given duplicate copy of another organizations process, but only when necessary. You have to define “necessary.” Perhaps your internal resources are overextended or you just need help choosing the right direction. You may also find a correlation between frequent program changes and diminishing success.
Then take a more scientific approach and analyze the copy with consideration to your own organizational culture. Will it fit at all? Will it work with some modification? How can the process (and modifications) be tested? Ask questions, survey employees. Perform some R&D in the classic sense. If analysis indicates a good probability of success, then begin planning an implementation strategy.
Let me extend the DNA metaphor another step. Suppose you’ve identified a process that works successfully in another organization with a unique culture. Your organization also has a unique culture. Using Dr. Boyce’s DNA approach a collaboration occurs between the two organizations. The process being shared that helps define the donor culture is now influenced through manipulation by the recipient culture – your culture. The result then is a unique process influenced by the traits each of the cultures. Sound like DNA?
According to MSHA, since Jan. 1, 2010, 85 miners have been injured by mobile equipment including eight miners who were killed in accidents involving mobile face equipment. Of the total number of miners injured, 26 were permanently partially or totally disabled from accidents involving mobile equipment and 51 had lost time accidents involving continuous miners, shuttle cars, ramcars, mantrips and scoops.
MSHA recommends best practices including: Install and maintain electronic proximity detection devices (see the proximity detection single source page on the MSHA website); stay out of the red zone when the continuous miner is operating; always walk behind mobile equipment. Never walk in front of a shuttle car or scoop; sound warnings when starting and tramming equipment, making tight turns, reversing direction or approaching curtains.
See more at www.msha.gov/Alerts/StruckbyAccidents62012.pdf