The Business Case for Safety Leadership

June 27, 2016
In this week’s Voices of the Industry, Phillip Sandino, VP of Data Center Operations at RagingWire Data Centers, reviews the business case for safety leadership in mission critical facilities.

In this week’s Voices of the Industry, Phillip Sandino, Vice President of Data Center Operations at RagingWire Data Centers, reviews the business case for safety leadership in mission critical facilities.

Phillip Sandino, VP of Data Center Operations, RagingWire Data Centers

Mission critical businesses, whether power stations, airlines, hospitals, or data centers, all rely on safe, efficient operations to deliver their services, attract customers, and continue as viable businesses. Successful leaders in all of these industries thrive because of high standards, especially when it comes to personal and workplace safety.

In fact, a study published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that businesses in the study that were recognized for health and safety performance outperformed the market by significant margins. The discipline learned from high achievement in safety performance translates into higher expectations and results throughout the organization.

Data center operations leaders should focus on these building blocks to ensure sustainable performance:

The most trustworthy leaders are focused on the sustained success of their teams. That trust is built by principled leadership. Safety of colleagues, customers, and the public is a core value of any successful operating organization. Teams that establish high expectations around safety, and then follow through with operational excellence, benefit from colleagues with high morale, attention to detail, and ownership of their workspace. Solid teams can form around the achievement of safety goals. Safety’s benefits are mutual for the company and the individual.

It is the leader’s responsibility to avoid accidents, and all accidents are avoidable. The differences between “get it done” and “get it done right” are significant. While getting it done at any cost can lead to some big wins, it is not a sustainable strategy. Leaders put colleagues at risk by cheating safety standards to maintain mission. The responsibility of the leader is to establish core values which promote proper methods for minimizing risk and to coach zero tolerance for unsafe behavior. Create a culture of high standards and doing things right.

Build Safety Into Your Processes
Safe work practices should not be a burden on any company – instead they are the foundation. Safety must be planned into work. The Uptime Institute’s article titled The Making of a Good Method of Procedure covers the inclusion of safety measures. The safety section of a MOP is an excellent opportunity to provide prescriptive guidance to colleagues performing work on the use of specific pre-job briefs, appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) for the task, and clear communication. It should provoke thought and encourage colleagues to ask, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” The time required to perform any well thought-out safety check is an investment in the safe attitudes and competency of your colleagues.

Inspect What You Expect
Do not assume that good practices are followed in your shop. Leaders must witness what actually takes place in the field. Be present for pre-job briefs, job setup, execution and post job cleanup. Your colleagues will appreciate your interest in their work, and everyone present can learn from each other’s perspectives on how work gets done and what it means to your company and the customer.

Zero Tolerance Leads to ROI
As data center operations leaders, our challenge and our opportunity is to deliver 100% availability and an exceptional customer experience at a cost that allows us to provide cost effective products. In data center operations there are a thousand little things and a handful of big things – but they all are important. And the tolerances are small. In fact the tolerances are zero. Any deviation from process introduces risk to the customer and the business.

The business case for data center safety leadership is self-evident – without safety you have no business.

Phillip Sandino is Vice President of Data Center Operations at RagingWire Data Centers. He is responsible for end-to-end operations of all RagingWire’s facilities including nearly 1,000,000 square feet of data center space and 80 megawatts of power at campuses in Ashburn, Virginia, Sacramento, California, and Dallas, Texas, as well as future builds in top North American markets. As part of NTT Communications, RagingWire is the third largest data center company in the world with over 140 locations.

About the Author

Voices of the Industry

Our Voice of the Industry feature showcases guest articles on thought leadership from sponsors of Data Center Frontier. For more information, see our Voices of the Industry description and guidelines.

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