(From National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego) What does a commander in the Navy have in common with a safety professional?
Well, if you’ve ever taken a position as safety manager at a company with a poor safety record, then you have plenty in common with a situation faced by Michael Abrashoff when he took his first command of the ship U.S.S. Benfold.
Even safety pros at companies with good safety records can take something away from Abrashoff’s message about leadership.
In the opening session of this year’s National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, Abrashoff explained how he took a ship with one of the worst records in the Navy and turned it into one of the best.
And the bad record included safety, with a high percentage of crew going out on workers’ comp.
The keys to Abrashoff’s success:
- He talked to every member of the crew to find out how to improve the Benfold.
- He told them they were empowered to challenge every aspect of the operation, including safety.
- When he caught sailors doing something good, he recognized what they were doing immediately. He also gave out 115 achievement medals in his first year of command.
- He brought leaders together to focus on one of the Benfold’s 24 divisions each week.
Abrashoff’s message was clear: Listen to your crew. Empower them. Tell them to come to you with problems and suggestions.
How do you get employees at your company to speak up about safety? Have you ever taken over as safety manager at a company with a bad record and turned it around? How did you do that? Let us know in the Comments Box below.