Behavior-Based Safety Improvements Save Lives

Rejuvenating a stalled safety program with Safety Culture Services




In 2006, Southern Company's Engineering and Construction Services (E&CS) group, implemented a behavior-based safety observation program supported by a safety software solution known as SafetyNet from Predictive Solutions. The solution delivered advanced and predictive analytics capabilities.

Though they immediately saw results with a safety incident rate that fell by 42 percent throughout the first year, their program and results started to stagnate as the engagement of their people waned. From 2008 to 2009 their incident rate was reduced by only 12 percent.

In order to return to significant incident reduction rates and realize a greater return on investment from the safety software, the E&CS team decided to reinvigorate and engage their people by transforming their program. To execute these transformations and ensure they were sustainable over the long term, they engaged Predictive Solutions' Safety Culture Services.


To transform its program, Southern Company's E&CS group worked with Dr. Chuck Pettinger, Ph.D., Process Change Leader at Predictive Solutions. Dr. Pettinger delivered Safety Culture Services centered around a Vison/Strategy/Plan (VSP) methodology that incorporated key safety and general change management principles espoused by thought leaders such as John Kotter.

First, Dr. Pettinger executed a Cultural Assessment across the E&CS group to identify where the engagement gaps existed. Next, he and the E&CS group built a cross-functional design team that developed a Change Strategy that could bridge the identified engagement gaps and was linked to their safety vision. Next, they piloted the new program on a few E&CS projects and achieved great success in engaging their people.

Following the pilot, the team initiated a system-wide rollout that eventually will include all employees and contractors who perform work on E&CS sites. Finally, a second-generation cross-functional team has been recruited to drive sustainability of the new program using a People/Process/Tools approach with SafetyNet at its core.


Within 18 months of implementing the program, Southern Company reinvigorated and engaged its people and was able to surpass its previous incident rate reduction levels. Initiated by a 646 percent increase in safety observations, which fueled higher levels of advanced and predictive analytics that drove both corrective and preventive actions, E&CS' incident rates dropped by 67 percent. Most importantly, by taking ownership of their own engagement program, Southern Company is in a much better position to sustain and improve these results in the future.

In September 2011, Southern Company's E&CS group and Predictive Solutions were recognized with "Vision" and "Technology Enabler" awards from Constructech Magazine for their advances in safety performance through the use of advanced and predictive analytics. However, as two leaders of Southern Company's program Coy Graham, an Assistant Construction Project Manager, and David Myers, a Senior Construction Safety Manager, often say, "The technology is important, but in the end, it's all about engaging our people."

Cary Usrey

Written by Cary Usrey

Cary Usrey has been at Predictive Solutions since March 2007. As a Process Improvement Leader, Cary is responsible for implementing best practices for customers seeking to prevent worker injuries. He coaches customers through an assessment, goal-setting, and goal measurement process that is designed to maximize safety improvement and widespread organizational engagement, from the field to leadership. Cary started his career in the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Power Program. After leaving the Navy, he served as the Environmental, Health and Safety Compliance Director at Adirondack Resource Recovery Associates, a waste-to-energy power plant in upstate New York, where he was employed for over twelve years. Following this, Cary took a position with Turner Construction, where he served as the Business Unit Safety Director for the upstate New York office for approximately three years. Cary has graduated with his Associate's Degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado, is a member of the Central FL chapter of the ASSE, and has served on the Board of Directors for the VPPPA (Region II).

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