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Duke Revard By Duke Revard • April 8, 2016

Expert Interview With Dr. Timothy Ludwig On Cultivating A Safety Culture

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Want to know more about the importance of safety in the modern business world? Dr. Timothy Ludwig of Safety-Doc.com dedicates much of his professional career to helping others stay safe and educating businesses on the important aspects of cultivating a safety culture. He was kind enough to answer some of our questions regarding his work and passion for safety. He also shared some insights into the keys to his success.



Duke Revard: What is your professional background?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: I received my doctorate in applied behavior science from Virginia Tech under one of the behavioral safety gurus named E. Scott Geller; that's where we founded the Center for Applied Behavior Systems.  Immediately after graduation, I did a post-doctorate working with industrial engineers in the heart of Deming's quality revolution agency we called the Virginia Quality and Productivity Center.  I got into consulting and worked with governments, hospitals and distribution companies targeting their quality issues.  I also spent many years facilitating strategic planning for the US Navy as they sought to reinvent their mission.  I then took an academic job at Appalachian State University to fulfill a dream of being a professor like my father.  For 20 years, I've taught all levels of students from very large freshmen classes through practicum-based graduate classes in our Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Resources Management program.  I maintained an active scholarly research program investigating the factors that motivate human behavior in organizations.

 


Duke Revard: What drew you to being a safety consultant?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: I had been fully involved in both research and teaching while maintaining my quality improvement/strategic planning consulting.  But I began to notice that more and more companies asked me to come speak to them about my research in safety.  I quickly engaged with my network and found myself improving safety cultures through behavioral safety practices.  I was invited to be a Commissioner with the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, where we accredit the best behavioral safety programs in the world.  It was this mix of teaching skills, basic research and real-world benchmarking that has propelled my career in safety.

 

Duke Revard: Tell us more about Safety-Doc.com.


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: Sometimes, you get things in your head and just have to get them out.  Safety-Doc.com is that vehicle for me.  Fortunately, thousands of others are interested in stories and insights into safety cultures. Safety-Doc.com is a free resource of safety culture content to inspire and teach.  We are building a community who shares stories, comments, and struggles.  If you're interested in help with your safety culture, you can also find ideas and services at the website.  But basically, it's just me goofing off.

 

Duke Revard: What do you think is the connection between safety programs/practices and success for small businesses?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: Small businesses can still base their safety program on the human-to-human interaction.  Smaller family-owned businesses tend to create cultures where folks look out for each other.  The safety challenge occurs when those small businesses go into the growth spurts.  That's when hiring a safety professional is a wise investment.

 

Duke Revard: What do you offer to help businesses and individuals with safety?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: My consulting takes advantage of experience in strategic planning and quality improvement paired with my expertise in applying behavioral science.  I like to build long term relationships with my clients, so I prefer starting with an assessment and strategy session to customize a path forward.  Not all companies are at the same level of maturity in their safety culture.  After this point, I enjoy working with the company to customize their behavioral safety programs, reporting leading indicator measurement systems, training in behavior management, mentorship programs, and - with the greatest effect - behavioral leadership training.

 

Duke Revard: Who should be reading your website, and what other things will they find there?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: Individuals whose decisions and actions impact the safety of their workforce.  Certainly, this includes safety professionals, safety supervisors, and employee safety teams; but I also have a number of business leaders and fellow researchers reading.  What they will find there are insights, arguments, jokes and riddles, stories, and science.  You get sarcasm at times and contrarian views at others.  You will always learn something that you can hopefully use to make the world a bit better.

 

Duke Revard: Please share with us some of the reasons that you think have contributed to the continued success of Safety-Doc. What are some of the things you have learned while growing your business?  


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: To start with, you need good content - something insightful and new.  Then you exploit the modern wonders of social media where LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube can put your message out to tens of thousands if you know where to look (LinkedIn Groups is my best marketing team).  Write articles for big magazines, go speak at big conferences, make yourself known, keep doing research and benchmarking to keep your content fresh, then write a book.  I do no direct sales; these marketing techniques bring really interesting work my way.

 

Duke Revard: What sort of feedback do you receive from your customers?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: That they pass the blog posts and stories on to their team and beyond.

 

Duke Revard: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?


Dr. Timothy Ludwig: Write it down, get it out there ... inspire others, change the world.

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