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From Mistakes to Mastery: How OCLM Enhances Safety and Culture in the Workplace

In the world of safety leadership, one concept stands out for its profound impact on both individual growth and organizational excellence: Own it, Correct it, Learn from it, and Move on (OCLM). This philosophy, inspired by the resilience and wisdom of historical figures like President Abraham Lincoln, emphasizes the importance of leveraging mistakes as stepping stones towards improvement. For safety professionals, adopting OCLM can revolutionize workplace culture and enhance overall safety performance.

The Power of Owning Mistakes

President Lincoln, known for his self-effacing humor and profound insights, understood the value of mistakes. He believed that imperfection is inherent in people and institutions, but it should not hinder progress. Instead, it should be the catalyst for growth. This perspective is at the heart of OCLM: owning our mistakes allows us to correct them, learn from them, and move forward with greater competence and confidence.

Leveraging Mistakes for Safety Excellence

Safety manager and team.
Site safety manager with team.

In the safety context, OCLM offers a

practical framework for continuous improvement. When safety incidents occur, the immediate reaction often involves blame and denial. However, focusing on the problem rather than the person can lead to more constructive outcomes. Encouraging team members to recount what happened without fear of punishment helps them see their mistakes more clearly and learn from them effectively.

Take the story of Zeke, a production supervisor who initially imposed unrealistic standards of perfection on himself and his team. This relentless pursuit of flawlessness led to increased safety incidents and a demoralized workforce. By applying the OCLM philosophy, Zeke transformed his team’s approach to safety. Productivity soared, and safety incidents significantly decreased, creating a more positive and resilient work environment.

Building a Culture of Safety Ownership

For safety professionals, building a culture of safety ownership involves several key steps:

1.     Set Clear Expectations: Ensure that team members understand the importance of following safe work practices. Clarity in expectations helps individuals take ownership of their safety responsibilities.

2.     Provide Adequate Training: Equip team members with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their tasks safely. Training should emphasize that completing work safely is as important as completing it successfully.

3.     Supply the Right Tools: Ensure that all tools and equipment are in good working condition and adequate for the tasks at hand. Safe operation should always be a priority.

4.     Offer Continuous Feedback: Engage in ongoing conversations about safety expectations and performance. Regular feedback helps reinforce the importance of safety and encourages continuous improvement.

Transformational Outcomes

The impact of OCLM extends beyond immediate safety improvements. When team members feel empowered to own their mistakes and learn from them, job satisfaction increases, and a more positive workplace culture emerges. This cultural shift not only enhances safety performance but also contributes to the overall well-being of employees.

The story of young Zeke, who went on to lead a team with an exemplary safety record, underscores the transformative power of OCLM. By embracing their imperfections and learning from mistakes, individuals and teams can achieve remarkable results.

For safety professionals, adopting the OCLM philosophy can be a game-changer. By encouraging team members to own their mistakes, correct them, learn from them, and move on, organizations can foster a culture of continuous improvement and resilience. This approach not only enhances safety performance but also transforms the workplace into a dynamic environment where individuals feel valued and empowered. Remember, the journey towards safety excellence begins with the willingness to leverage our imperfections as opportunities for growth.

Ken Chapman, Ph.D. and Tony Orlowski

Co-Authors, Safety Beyond The Numbers


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