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Implementing Standard Work at the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division

Colby Oliverson Newsletters, Success Stories

In January 2016, the Labor Commission’s Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division (UOSH) applied the concept of standard work to its workplace inspection process with the goal to issue citations (for when workplaces are found to have a recognized hazard) within 45 days from the opening of an inspection. By statute, UOSH has six months to issue a citation. However, allowing a hazard to exist in the workplace for that long is often unacceptable. Issuing citations within 45 days benefits employees and employers by correcting the hazard faster and avoiding accidents.

Standard Work

Standard work is the agreed-upon process or method used to complete a task or function based on the best knowledge available. Without standard work, it becomes easy to miss important steps, make mistakes, provide inconsistent services, and miscommunicate expectations.  

Experienced pilots, for example, log thousands of flight hours and are very skilled and knowledgeable in all types of flight conditions and scenarios. However, regardless of pilot experience, a preflight checklist is completed prior to every single takeoff. A preflight checklist includes a review of the crew, weather, airport conditions, aircraft performance, and travel route. The checklist is a standard that helps pilots consider as much information as possible in the preflight phase so they are well prepared ahead of time with the information needed to make sound decisions in any situation. Standard work also becomes the basis for improvement by allowing more time and effort to be put into resolving significant limitations rather than ongoing process failures.

If pilots waited until they were airborne to review all the critical information, they could easily become distracted by other workload issues or additional information gathering tasks which, in turn, could jeopardize flight safety. Conversely, a standard work process increases both reliability and accountability and provides the basis for accurate knowledge transfer. 

Standard Work at UOSH

UOSH’s strategy in implementing standard work involved removing duplicative efforts and unnecessary steps in the inspection review process. Specifically, the division improved its review process by systemizing the manner in which reports are written to include implementing an electronic case file system and electronic checklists, which expedited the review process by the compliance manager and minimized the amount of time spent printing and storing reports. This change helped to ensure all aspects of the case are complete and accurate and minimizes the need for corrections and additional investigation work. 

Results and Moving Forward

As of June 2019 and after implementing the concept of standard work, UOSH now completes an impressive 92% of cases within 45 days, up from 45% in Jan 2016—an astounding 47% improvement. Moving forward, the division’s goal is to consistently issue at least 90% of all citations within 45 days. The Labor Commission also plans to expand the SUCCESS Framework effort across all its divisions.

Congratulations to the awesome UOSH team for their hard work and improving workplace safety in Utah.

To learn more about standard work and other SUCCESS Framework concepts, go to https://success.utah.gov/key-concepts/.