Close the Gaps in your Safety Systems: Lessons from Shawshank.


Timothy D. Ludwig, Ph.D.
Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies
Safety-Doc.com

Many of us were captivated, with the escape and ultimate recapture of prisoners at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upper New York State that resembled the Shawshank Redemption. The methodical nature of how the prisoners toiled in secret to escape has to be a cautionary tale to those of us working to keep injury at bay. Many of our safety processes do a very good job of finding and acting on recognizable hazards. Even the trained eye of the safety professional can miss escape paths for injuries. Safety processes should be designed (or re-designed) to better consider Latent Hazards; those hazards that are not obvious and often at the boundaries of established processes (e.g., chemical disposal, deploying engineering designs, maintenance). Similarly, behavioral safety processes should be designed (or re-designed) to go beyond what a passing observer can see (e.g., PPE, proper tools) to better consider Complacent Risks; those behaviors that increase the potential of injury from less obvious but very real risks engaged during tasks where complacency, novelty and short cuts may conceal the risks from both the worker, group leaders, and the casual observers.  

Tim Ludwig earned his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech researching the benefits of employee-driven behavior based safety programs under E. Scott Geller. His popular website Safety-Doc.com is a content-rich resource of safety culture stories, blogs, research, videos, and services. Dr. Ludwig was cited in Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN) “Power 101” Leaders in the Safety and Health World. Dr. Ludwig serves on the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies’ Behavioral Safety Accreditation Commission that reviews best-in-industry safety practices and offers independent, objective feedback on safety programs.

Dr. Ludwig is a Distinguished Graduate Professor at Appalachian State University where he teaches in the nationally recognized Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Resources Management Masters program. Dr. Ludwig's teaching has been recognized with the North Carolina University Board of Governors’ Excellence award and has been inducted into the University's Academy of Outstanding Teachers. Dr. Ludwig served as editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and is the past President of the Organizational Behavior Management Network.
He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles that empirically document the successes of methods to improve safety and quality in industry through behavior-based solutions. His books include Intervening to Improve the Safety of Occupational Driving which reviewed 10 years of behavior-based safety in the product delivery industry and Behavioral Systems: Understanding Complexity in Organizations which presented contributions from 15 top scholars and practitioners in the field of Behavior Systems Analysis. His upcoming books include Best-in-Class Safety which benchmarks how companies with the best safety records succeed and Ticklish Safety Tales: Stories with a Purpose which draws on his experience working internationally with safety programs.

He has over 25 years experience in research and practice in behavioral safety where he integrates empirical findings into his safety consulting. Within his consulting practice Dr. Ludwig has helped assess, design, and implement safety programs at Schlumberger, Union Pacific, Newmount mining, Fairbanks Morse Engine, Newell Rubbermaid, Husky Energy, Marathon Refining, Corning, NASA, USI, Timbar, Costain, FMC Corp., Albany International, TRW Automotive, Eastman Chemicals, CertainTeed, Domino’s Pizza, DRA of South Africa, Newmont, Andersen Windows, Carolina Medical Center, Kimberly Clarke, Connectiv Energy, Sealed-Air, S&ME, Arizona Public Service Company, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), SuperValu, and Nucor Steel. He also has provided his expertise in Behavior Systems Analysis, Strategic Planning, and Quality Improvement to numerous private and government organizations over the past 15 years. Clients include the US Navy-Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Space Warefare (SPAWAR), US Department of Energy, US Department of the Interior, National Grocers of Canada, the Deaconess Hospital System, Boyles Furniture, and Alex Lee Inc..

Dr. Ludwig’s recent keynote presentations include speeches at the:

  • ENFORM Oil and Gas Conference, Banff, CN
  • 6th & 7th European Conference on Behavior-Based Safety and Applied Behavior Analysis, Rome, Italy;
  • Safety Week Keynote, Langley Research Center, NASA;
  • HSE Transformation Leadership conference for the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, Abuja, Nigeria;
  • 5th Annual Safety Culture Forum, Beijing, China;
  • International Symposium on Behavior-based Safety and Safety Management, Beijing, China;
  • Occupational Health & Safety Management Summit, Bogota, Columbia;
  • International Conference on Occupational Risk Prevention, A Coruna, Spain;
  • AmCham's Health Safety and Environment Conference & Exhibition, Trinidad;
  • Behavioral Safety Now (multiple years);
  • Behavior Management Training Leadership Conference, Darington, United Kingdom,
  • People-Based Safety Conference (multiple years),
  • and at state-level Association for Behavior Analysis conferences throughout the United States.