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Organisational Change at Big Aluminium


Some years back a global aluminium giant setup a huge manufacturing plant in an Asian country. While running a safe plant was the CEO’s topmost priority, he soon realised that local people lacked sensitivity to plant safety. To them, plant accidents were ‘inevitable’ and something they had learnt to live with. According to the CEO, the workers had been traditionally exploited and therefore, could not understand why their safety could be more important than speed of production.


A comprehensive safety manual, detailing numerous guidelines for the workers to follow, was created but it failed. As accidents continued to rise, the company decided to think differently.


The company decided to foster a conversation around plant safety, including even the worker families in it. After all, they had a huge stake in plant safety. The company celebrated rituals like a ‘two minute silence’ whenever an accident, however small or big, happened. In doing so, they moved plant safety from the boardroom to the lunch/dinner table conversation of workers and their families. The result was a dramatic improvement on the plant safety performance. In fact, many new plant safety guidelines came as suggestions from workers themselves. Perhaps, because they now felt part of the plant safety initiative; they felt included. 

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