Circle of Safety’ becomes industry role model

“…if the knowledge we have gained can help others, then our work is even more important and rewarding.

Radwan Dagher, MPC’s Detroit refinery„

When the Circle of Safety team from Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s refinery in Detroit, Mich., attended this year’s Behavioral Science Technology (BST) conference in Orlando, Fla., they really shined.

The team’s booth showcased the refinery’s observation process and coaching model, and Pump Mechanical Mobile Operator Josh Hook delivered two lively case studies to teach other companies how they made behavior-based safety (BBS) successful during the refinery’s huge 2012 turnaround. The presentations were such a hit that BST asked for an encore performance next year.

Although they emerged from the conference as BBS stars, fame is far from the Circle of Safety team’s purpose. Their goal is much more lofty: a workplace where nobody gets hurt.

The Circle of Safety team is a collaborative effort, led by hourly workers in cooperation with refinery management, to continually enhance employee engagement with BBS. “The Circle of Safety team is led by a committee of active union observers who vote every two years for a new coordinator to lead the group,” says Honor Sheard, manager of Health, Environment, Safety and Security at the refinery. “The coordinator conducts training, reaches out to observers, reviews data, and more. The team meets monthly with management so we are all aligned, and we make sure they have the resources they need.”

Radwan Dagher, relief operator and the Circle of Safety coordinator, says the team’s success is predicated largely on quality observations and data collection. “What I mean by quality observations is that we observe each other very openly and have respectful, positive interactions with positive consequences,” says Dagher. “It’s all voluntary, and it’s a ‘no-name, no-blame’ process for the observations, so we don’t focus only on at-risk behaviors, but focus a lot on safe behaviors to reinforce them.”

The data collection component is important, Dagher says, because the more workers know about safe or at-risk behaviors, the better they can promote consistently safe behaviors and avoid injuries. “I get very passionate about this, because when we get this right, it means we help each other avoid pain and suffering,” says Dagher. “That’s why it’s so great that we were able to share this at the BST conference – if the knowledge we have gained can help others, then our work is even more important and rewarding.”