To reach excellence in safety, first you have to define what it will look like.
Safety success has to be defined not only in results but in performance terms. It has to be defined in ways that are observable.
This is the way one company I worked with defined safety success:
If the bosses are interested …
This was a construction company with about 80% attrition each year because, after finishing one major project they’d been working on for nine months, they’d pack up and move to another location and another project. So getting employees on the same page was very difficult when they lost most of their people every year.
Leadership decided to define safety success as good job planning and preparation for daily tasks.
Their goal: A company manager could walk up to any worker, and that person would know their job and their safety role and responsibilities tied to it.
People pay attention to what bosses pay attention to, particularly when the boss describes, “this is what we want,” and shows up to job sites, talking to employees.
What does safety look like?
Similarly, the company also asked itself, what should safety look like to employees who are going to be with the company for only nine months?
The company boiled it down to four main things they wanted employees to do for safety:
- always wear the correct PPE
- keep your eyes in the direction you’re traveling
- keep out of the path of rotating or moving equipment, and
- pay attention to what you’re standing, walking or climbing on.
Any employee who was on the job site for a month knew these four things because they were emphasized over and over again.
One client was so impressed with what they saw regarding safety that they awarded the construction company an extension of their project.
Safety became a competitive advantage to the organization.
(Based on a presentation by Shawn Galloway, CEO, ProAct Safety, Houston, at the National Safety Council’s 2021 Safety Congress)