Imagine standing on the doorstep of a co-worker’s family, trying to break the news of a serious injury or death- most are not prepared for that moment, yet it happens. In 2016 there were tens of thousands of fatal motor vehicle crashes, more than 5,000 workplace fatalities and 2.9 million workplace injuries. Chances are, you know someone who was injured at work.
I’ll admit it- as an aspiring technician, I thought I was invincible. Safety glasses were worn when the safety manager was in town. When safety rules were followed, it was because we were told to, not because we wanted to, and certainly not because we thought they would prevent an injury.
So what changed? How did I go from the above scenario to a career as a leader focused on delivering a world-class safety program? The answer is simple- after 25 years of prioritizing customer service and productivity I had realized there was a 3rd priority, and the most important one of all. I want to share with you the following four beliefs, which I have found to be essential in establishing a world-class safety program.
4 Key Safety Leadership Beliefs:
1. Employees must believe that all accidents are preventable:
Safety leaders don’t accept the notion that certain risks are unavoidable, or, injuries are normal for this business.
2. Safety is more than steel-toed boots and safety glasses:
Safety is a way of life and must be embedded in your company’s culture. While leadership buy-in is a critical first step, a culture is built on the joint efforts of all organization individuals, on a day-to-day basis.
3. Safety is at the top of the priority list:
Leadership must buy in to the notion that safety is more important than productivity, and all other things. Many companies have objectives that outweigh safety, unfortunately until something goes wrong.
4. A world-class program is worth the investment:
True safety leaders care for their employees and want them to go home safely at the end of their shift, regardless of any financial implications on the company.
While there are many critical elements of a World-Class Safety Program, it begins and ends with leadership. Acknowledging that your safety program is above all other priorities is the first and most difficult step, but realizing all of the underlying benefits of a healthy safety culture are rewarding beyond any line on the P&L.