Coaching Skills Enhance Safety Culture at Linde Engineering

Linde-logoThe Client: Linde Engineering is a leading technology partner for plant engineering and construction worldwide. Linde Engineering is a division of The Linde Group, the largest gases and engineering company in the world with approximately 65,500 employees (as of 2015) working in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The Goal: Help managers and leaders develop the skills needed to engage and empower all of their teams directly in safety performance, and play an integral part in building a safety culture to make Linde the “safest place to work in the world”.

The Challenge: To create such an innovative and exciting learning journey, including online interactive modules, that participants are inspired to champion the programme and build a safety culture across the organization.


The traditional approach to safety management has been to “teach” safety through instructional training, without addressing the mindsets and behaviours that prevent fatal accidents. This method along with improved legislation, closer supervision, technological advances, etc has contributed to an improvement in safety with a decrease in accidents (see graph below).

Safety performance indicators data published by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers show a significant reduction in the total recordable injury rate (TRIR) since 2005 and a corresponding reduction in lost time injury frequency (LTIFR). However since 2008 the LTIFR, including fatalities, has plateaued around 0.5. It became clear to Linde Engineering, a division of The Linde Group, that they needed to strengthen their focus on behavioural safety (the rest of the Group has been working with behavioural safety tools and processes for around 10 years).

The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. In 2011, The Linde Group began a journey of transformation to become a High Performance Organization (HPO) and essentially the Number 1 organization for safety within its industry. The transformation is focused on clearly defined targets to surpass world best, which include quality, cost and customer focus. Following a large-scale assessment of Linde Engineering’s safety culture, 6,000 respondents enabled Linde to identify areas for improvement. As a result, Linde Engineering knew they wanted to take a new approach to safety that would make a difference and have a lasting impact.

Needs and Objectives

The main objectives for participants:

  • Play an integral part in making Linde the “safest place to work in the world”
  • Engage and empower all your team directly in safety performance
  • Align safety performance goals with your own, your team’s and Linde’s objectives

Key requirements for the organization:

  • Improve employee engagement through Visible Leadership and by addressing performance improvement using coaching
  • Become a high-performance organization by focusing on specific areas such as quality, cost, customer focus
  • Be Number 1 in safety within the industry
  • Develop a sustainable approach that integrates health, safety and environment management responsibilities in the daily tasks of managers and supervisors

Performance Consultants’ Approach

Key to a strong safety culture is an increased awareness of self, others and situation, supported by clear communication between workers and management. This motivates and enables people to take personal ownership for safety, make better decisions and respond in safer ways. A coaching style of management is perfect to achieve this. Linde Engineering started their collaboration with Performance Consultants in 2014, completely revolutionizing the approach to safety in the organization by the introduction of coaching and applying it in the context of Coaching for Safety Performance.

A Coaching Style Increases Awareness and Responsibility

As part of Linde’s pioneering LeadSafe programme, managers learn to adopt a “coach-like” approach in their role, and develop a leading-edge skill set and behaviours that will reduce injuries and incidents and enable them to unleash their own potential within safety performance, and the potential of their team. The integration of coaching skills in various safety contexts occurs through in-person and virtual elements:

  1. 2-day in-person coaching skills workshop in Europe, USA, Asia.
  2. E-learning programme of six 1-hour modules developed in English, translated into French, Russian, German, Chinese.

An essential factor in the success of enhancing Linde’s safety culture is to have members of the organization champion the program. For this reason, 42 BeSafe Leaders attended an in-person 2-day training that encompasses the same material in the e-learning programme. Part of their responsibilities as leaders is to promote and support the learning of the e-learning programme and most importantly, apply the coaching skills as part of their own leadership style with their teams. In this way, these Champions drive the e-learning programme. The e-learning programme promotes this sustainable approach that Linde Engineering was looking for and will also reach large numbers of managers and supervisors within construction and manufacturing.

Global Delivery

Three in-person 2-day workshops for senior managers have taken place in the USA, Asia and Europe, with the intention to roll it out further to the HSE specialists early next year. The e-learning programme has also been launched in English and will be rolled out globally in five different languages – French, Russian, Swedish, German, and Chinese – over the next 18 months.

Client Testimony and Impact

Incident reduction Linde Engineering construction 2015-2016

“We would like to thank you for your dedication and commitment which has resulted in a great product that is having a positive effect on many. Most importantly, the result of this work shows in the safety statistics. With just 4 of the 6 e-learning modules released so far, our recordable incident rate has fallen from 6 to 1 for the same calendar period.”
Global Programme Sponsor, Construction & Commissioning HSE, Linde Engineering Headquarters, Germany

The chart shows the most recent comparison between calendar years of recordable incidents at Linde Engineering construction sites – a fall from 13 incidents to just 2.

As the project rolls out, we are seeing the impact and visible leadership is becoming apparent. Leaders are developing awareness of their responsibilities and leading from the front by going on sites and carrying out inspections as part of their everyday responsibilities. An Employee Engagement Survey is also being rolled out in the organization and the results will be published in the coming months.

“This training really is one of the most well thought out training programs I’ve been involved with. It makes you think throughout, and in my opinion, will affect our performance in a positive way.”
James M. Suddarth, Manager, Construction Engineering – Mechanical, Linde Engineering

The initial intention was to target the 7,000 employees of Linde Engineering starting with the Construction and Manufacturing arms of the group. After demonstrating clear results, the scope has been widened to include other businesses within The Linde Group, specifically through distribution of the e-learning modules.

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