It’s better to fix the systematic root of a safety hazard before you try to fix safety attitudes. That’s why a system-based safety approach, where you fix an issue through system alterations, is the best way to launch a safety program.

In this episode, we talk with Jeffrey Citrone, Manager Health and Safety Compliance at KAHUNA Ventures LLC, about how to go about implementing a system-based approach to safety.

He also explains why safety professionals need to do a better job of convincing management of the unseen value of training and compliance.

Let’s dive deeper into a fascinating discussion with this industry expert and his unique insights into industrial health and safety.

The Importance of Health & Safety Compliance

After receiving his Masters degree in geology from Lehigh University, Jeffrey headed out to enjoy the rugged beauty of Colorado and a rewarding position within the oil industry as an environmental scientist.

Moving into risk assessment and compliance, Jeffrey became enthralled with the process of helping his clients reach full compliance with state and federal regulations.

Ensuring the health and safety of this nation’s vital oil and petroleum industry workforce is a crucial mission, especially in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the oil industry was not only smacked with COVID, but also with a huge price reduction due to the decrease in demand, overproduction here in the United States, and an oversupply of oil. When it hit at the beginning of 2020, not only did we have that slowdown, but the price of oil went negative for a few days, which tremendously impacted the industry and shut down a lot of facilities and caused a lot of heartache and layoffs.”

— Jeffrey Citrone

Industrial hygiene is a rapidly growing field now, and Jeffrey and Kahuna Ventures are leading the charge with innovative engineering, project management, and facility oversight.

System-Based vs Behavior-Based

Jeffrey believes that system-based safety is the primary approach companies should take. If you can minimize the hazards that your employees are exposed to with system alterations, it’s immensely easier to then maintain a safety-focused attitude.

It also keeps workers from becoming complacent.

In layman’s terms, system-based safety follows OSHA’s process safety standard, starting with engineering and moving through administration, systematically weeding out hazards and ensuring compliance.

Behavior-based programs rely more on employee training and education, designed to empower staff to identify and remove threats.

While both philosophies have their value — and people have their personal preferences — the most important goal is keeping your workers safe, above all.

“There’s a common misconception that system safety is more complex and more costly.”

— Jeffrey Citrone

Cost Effectiveness

The oil industry had a not-undeserved reputation as a place for “good ol’ boys,” and OSHA workplace protections only came into being in the early 1970’s.

Jeffrey faced an uphill battle changing negative attitudes about industrial hygiene and getting management aligned with safety procedures and complying with government regulations.

The initial costs of setting up systems for environmental safety can seem prohibitive to management as well. But nothing is more valuable than human life.

The staggering toll of preventable industrial accidents is much higher than common sense and functional safety protocols.

“One of the biggest things that safety professionals fail at is making an effective case to management that safety is cost effective.”

— Jeffrey Citrone

Making Contacts

Jeffrey is a proud member of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). It’s the largest organization in the world for leaders in this field and boasts over thirty-seven thousand members.

The group provides education and resources, as well as a vibrant professional community offering valuable networking opportunities.

There are a lot of resources available for those just starting out in this exciting industry. Jeffrey recommends that you don’t just rely on yourself – reach out and make contacts in your community to help you on your journey.

Words of Wisdom

Jeffrey’s advice to his younger self?

Take advantage of all of your educational opportunities. Nobody will ever regret building a strong knowledge base.

Advancements in tech and Big Data means he looks forward to the exciting steps the “newbies” will take in developing new safety programs that utilize AI and machine learning.

“I’m going to go back to my soapbox and say we need to do system safety first. We need to try and isolate the hazards upfront, as soon as possible. Everybody thinks it’s complicated and costly. But in the long run, it’s not. Show your employees that it’s a lot easier to understand and cooperate and believe in safety.”

— Jeffrey Citrone

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