Fall 2016 Newsletter


Once again it has been quite a while since we produced our last newsletter.  We apologize for this as we have been busy practicing semi-retirement.  We drove south for a few months this winter with our new trailer and liked it so much we will be doing it again this winter – only for longer.  With all of the travel it makes it difficult to find time to put a newsletter together.  There are some new things to report on so please take time to have a look at it.

Creative Sentencing Funding

This is a story about another Government fostered program that doesn’t live up to expectations.  Millions of dollars are being awarded to organizations through the legislated Creative Sentencing Program.  This is a program that makes project funding available from fines levied on non-compliant employers.  In theory, it’s a good program as proposed projects are supposed to relate to the offence and upon completion should offer an opportunity to improve on future compliance.  The projects are first proposed to the OHS department who subsequently recommend funding to the Crown Prosecutor and Defense.  They pass this information onto the judge who recommends project funding out of the fine imposed.  Ultimately, the judge makes the decision to provide the funding, but he or she cannot reasonable do so without a recommendation from OHS.  Here is the problem – the program lacks oversight.

Until recently, OH&S didn’t have anyone internally dedicated to overseeing the funding applications.  This was revealed to me when I heard about a funded project similar to some self funded work I have been working on.   To their credit, the department has recently added some oversight duties onto one of their department employees.  I requested a copy of the Creative Sentencing funding application process and a copy of the guidelines around ensuring the projects are viable and carried out.  The response was that there are “no documented processes in place”.  Consequently, millions of dollars remain up for grabs that continue to be awarded for projects that may or may not conflict with, or duplicate work, that has already completed or is underway.  Further, there is no assurance funded applicants will be required to account for the work they proposed.  We have made some key political people aware of this misappropriation of funds and hope to be able to report back with some improvements to the program in the near future.

AnchorCompass Website

Watch for our new smart phone compatible website.  It was launched a few weeks ago but there are still a few bugs that need to be worked out. We have tweaked a few areas but essentially it is the same as our current site with a different look that can be accessed better by smart phones and tablets.

University OH&S Certificate Program

We’ve started to cut back on our work load – especially work that has hindered our travels south in the winter.  Our instructing at the University is one of these commitments that we had to let go.  We have not renewed our instruction contracts for the four day auditing course and have pulled the safety perception survey course.  We enjoyed our time working with the University and the students but now we have other important priorities.

Safety Perception Survey Guidebook

The fourth edition of Yes You Can….conduct your own safety perception survey book has just gone to print.  This edition will be spiral bound.  There are approximately 27 additional pages in this edition that relate mostly to the analysis of the survey data.

Problems with the New PIR Safety Perception Survey Standard

It is no secret that for many years Compass has fought to have safety perception surveys included as an option to auditing in the PIR program.  When we heard the PIR program was finally considering incorporating the measurement approach into the PIR program we asked to be included in the consultations.  We have many years of experience in conducting these surveys and have a great deal to offer in terms of practical advice.  True to form, PIR did not include us in the discussions.

With the guidance of Caterpillar and DuPont, PIR has drafted a new safety perception survey standard that, in our bias opinion, will discourage many companies from conducting surveys.  Here are a number of key issues that need to be addressed before the program can serve as a viable alternative PIR measurement approach.

  1. One of the biggest and most central issues with the PIR program has been the numerous inconsistencies between how the program is managed from one Certifying Partners (CP) to the next.  The new safety perception survey standard ensures these inconsistencies continue.  For example, the standard states that it is optional for CPs to participate in offering the survey option.  Depending on which CP a company participates under, they may or may not be able to benefit from using safety perception surveys.  In addition, the CPs may quantify questions responses with Yes or No, multiple choice, or some other ranking system such as the Likert scale.  The ranking system from one CP to the next should be standardized.
  2. A company wishing to conduct a safety perception survey under the PIR program must first achieve a score of a minimum of 90% in their last external partnership audit before they can qualify to participate in the perception survey process.  We have maintained that it is the organization’s health and safety culture that determines if the basic safety elements contained in audits will succeed.  If the research in this area is true, then it is the safety perception survey that should be a precursor to auditing.  In other words, if there is a percent that must be reached it should be a percent achieved in a safety perception survey that would allow one to then conduct an audit.  The importance of auditing to success in health and safety continues to be grossly over stated.
  3. The safety perception survey used must be approved by Partnerships who provide survey content criteria that are almost identical to audit content requirements.  In order to create a survey you must follow the PIR content guidelines that will result in a series of questions very similar to the audit tool.  Essentially the resulting survey is not a safety perception survey but a safety survey that has been a PIR option now for some time.  A safety perception survey typically has a culture focus and this focus appears to be missing in the new standard.
  4. In the new standard, there is no requirement to solicit employee comments to survey questions.  Employee comments provide additional information that is critical to  follow up and continuous improvement.  Comments help to validate the scoring.  Here we have an opportunity to receive unfiltered communication from employees.  I suspect the reason this option is not offered is because it is not currently gathered on a question by question basis by DuPont or Caterpillar databases.
  5. Participating employers must achieve a minimum of a 40% employee participation rate.  Where this participation rate came from is remarkable as it does not meet any scientific data gathering rates we are aware of.  Under this standard, if you are an organization of 10,000 employees you must ensure 4,000 employees participate in your survey.  Any sampling chart we can find indicates this rate is excessive for large organizations.  This fixed percentage approach is not even used in the existing auditing standards.

It is incredible that even with all of the prominent advice PIR couldn’t even get key safety perception survey basics incorporated into their new standard.  As a result, as it stands, the standard will not serve as a viable maintenance audit option. Anchor

Improvements to the Compass Safety Perception Survey DataBase

In our last newsletter we reported that we working with CCD Systems to make some significant changes to our survey application.  At that time we reported we had made some improvements such as the ability to assess positive, negative and neutral comments and then quantify them in a pie chart.  We improved the survey search capabilities in our database.  All surveys are now ordered by year and then listed alphabetically making it easier for safety associations/consultants to find past surveys.  Last, we incorporated the ability to exempt questions from scoring.  With this improvement participating employers can respond to a group standard survey but also add company specific questions that can be toggled in and out of the survey averages.

We made some incredible improvements to our survey database over that last year to a year and a half but since then, more changes have now been completed.

We thought we were going to be able to offer surveys in French and Spanish but we were fortunate enough to be able to tie into Google Languages. This has given us the ability to offer surveys in over 100 different languages.  If we want to conduct a survey in Africa, China or wherever, we probably have the ability to offer the survey in the local language.  However, once the data is gathered, it is up to the employer to have the ability to interpret the comments.  This option may be useful for employers that have employees that are not able to effectively respond to a survey in English.  This also puts Compass into a position of offering surveys internationally.

Graphing- Benchmarking
I’m not aware of a company that doesn’t want to compare themselves against others.  To facilitate this we have purchased a graphing package that not only allows us to offer more graphing options, including a benchmark graph.  An example of this graph is shown below.  The graph allows employers to compare their question scores with the average response to the question by all respondents and to compare all related industry respondents.  For example, if your company is in the oil and gas industry, you can compare question averages with averages of everyone that has ever responded to the question or to averages of only those in the oil and gas industry that have responded to the question.  This is rarely made available by other survey applications.

Standard Deviation
Our survey application now offers standard deviation reports.  With this option one can compare how far away specific scores are from the mean.  Many companies will find this additional analysis information useful.

Completion of these changes allows users to do more evaluation on the question data making it a more useful system measurement tool.

Free Version of Simply Safety! Software Now Available

As indicated earlier, the company that helps us with our survey application (i.e. CCD Systems) just released a free version of Simply Safety!.  The software includes a subset of modules covering the important tasks performed by most Safety Managers, including employee information, injury tracking, hazard analysis, training/orientation, inspections, etc.  To register and download your free copy, visit or call 1 800 862-9939.

Circulation of this Newsletter has surpassed 1,000 health and safety professionals. If you have something you want to share with others please contact us.

To view our other newsletters please visit our archive.


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