Three Reasons Why Your Safety Programs Are Not Improving Safety Performance, Creating a Culture of Safety, or Achieving Zero! Implementing or deciding to implement an active “safety program” is a vital step in providing for safety performance improvement. However, the majority of companies/organizations do not take a long-term view of their goals and, subsequently, implement plans that are theoretically “empty.” As with many programs that see minimal success or goal achievement, they often become less and less of a focus by the organization and ultimately end up cancelled or just forgotten. If your company has already implemented a “safety program” with minimal to little success, there are typically three independent or combined reasons why that safety program is, and will not be, successful!
1. Zero Injuries has not been established as the only safety performance goal that is acceptable!
2. Your “safety program” is ineffective, obsolete, and unaccepted.
3. Your “safety program” does not employ conditioning models, means, and methods.
Reason 1: Zero injuries have not been established as the only goal that is acceptable!
How many companies have set the goal of Zero for their safety performance? They have probably set the goal of Zero for product defects, quality issues, production downtime, late deliveries, and customer service complaints! If you have set the goal of Zero for any other function within your operation, why not for safety performance? Do you believe that “accidents and injuries just happen and that they are a part of doing business” or “accidents are inevitable?” “Other industries or companies can achieve Zero but the nature of our product/service and operations/production is inherently risky and, therefore, Zero is unobtainable!” Does Zero seem like an unrealistic goal? Would you agree that establishing a goal at anything greater than Zero sends the wrong message to management, employees, and staff? What does it say if you set a goal greater than Zero? Are some accidents okay? What accidents are acceptable? When put into this context, isn’t the obvious answer Zero? No accident is okay and none are acceptable! When Zero is established as the only acceptable standard for safety performance, the management, employees, and staff all have a defined goal that can be visualized and achieved.
Can Zero be Achieved? Think of it this way: Most organizations are already at Zero at any given moment. Companies go through stretches of time when there are zero incidents, accidents, or injuries. It is the lack of cultural conditioning that prevents many from consistently achieving Zero. The safety performance standards across all industries have increased substantially over the last several years. Many companies from all types of industries have set Zero as their goal–and many have achieved this incredible accomplishment! Construction, manufacturing, and mining companies have achieved Zero; records in excess of 8,000,000 man-hours without a lost time injury have been achieved. Zero can be achieved!
Reason 2: Your current “safety program” is ineffective, obsolete, and not accepted by employees. The reality is that most companies already have a safety plan or program. These plans or programs typically exist in three forms; the “Compliance” plan, the “Cost Cutting” program, and the “How To” program.
The “Compliance” Safety Plan – “Compliance” plans are typically implemented for regulatory compliance, i.e., OSHA or other regulatory requirements. Every company should have a compliance safety plan in place. In the case of an accident or injury, the regulatory agency or insurance company will request a copy of this plan. If there is no plan in place there may be severe penalties, fines, and associated costs. Compliance is only one aspect of an effective safety plan. They have little or no visibility by the employees and often do not provide methods for improving an employee’s culture and behavior towards eliminating risk or preventing incidents, accidents or injuries.
The “Cost-Cutting” Program – These are safety programs implemented for the sole purpose of “cost cutting” or “profit improvement measures.” Nothing destroys, on inception, a safety program which is implemented on the basis of “cost cutting” or “profit improvement measures.”Employees are bombarded with cost improvement measures annually, new programs, methods, equipment, and of course new management. All of these cost improvement measures do little, if anything, to improve the employee’s safety or motivation towards improving safety. Employees view these as empty programs and as another attempt to enrich others, namely the owners, and/or management of the company.
The “How to” Program – “How to” programs are tools in the quest for improved safety performance and achieving Zero. However, they often fail because there is no attempt to change the thinking, and therefore the actions, of your employees. Implementation of “How to” programs will allow the employees and management to gain a level of acceptance as they acknowledge that there are risks and the goal is to eliminate these risks via proper techniques and process. These programs are often one dimensional as they focus only on a particular activity or process, and they do little to change the thinking towards safe activity. All of these safety plans or programs contain missing links to improved safety performance. They fail to introduce and promote the use of vital techniques and strategies to enable employees to; 1. Achieve enrollment into and acceptance of the plan/program. 2. Identify and eliminate risk and prevent incident & accidents.In general these “plans” fail to protect the individuals who will benefit the most from an advanced culture of safety and improved safety performance.
Reason 3: Your “safety program” does not employ behavior “Conditioning Models”.
“Beliefs and attitudes equal culture which determines actions.”
Olympic athletes use proven physical and mental means and methods to improve their athletic performance and to condition their bodies and minds to achieve greatness and ultimately Olympic Gold. Conditioning the body and mind for success is the only way to achieve superior performance. Many safety programs fall short in providing strategies, techniques, means and methods that enable companies to obtain true cultural conditioning and behavior change. Typically they neglect to offer the following;
Behavior modification through risk identification/elimination and incident/accident prevention. At the core of most incidents and injuries is at-risk behavior. Employees not understanding, ignoring or assessing risk improperly. Risk elimination and incident prevention must be a fundamental component of any program. It provides for identification, assessment, and management of conditions and activities that have the potential to adversely affect people and assets. Anticipation of potential incidents helps in the development of efficient and effective risk mitigation and or incident prevention. A combination and collection of known activities, procedures, and tools that attempt to educate and forever condition employees’ behaviors, as well as enhances their abilities to eliminate risk and prevent incidents. These programs, activities, and processes must be thoroughly integrated into day-to-day activities.
Some Examples include; ·
Human Resource Practices
Safety Discipline Policy
Safety Audits ·
Job Task Analysis & Training (JTAT) ·
Near-Miss Reporting (NMR)
Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
Employee Safety Suggestion
Safety Data Management
Proactive program assessment, progress, and benchmarking activities through surveys & questionnaires. Measuring the affects of an intuitive, program, plan, or operational change incrementally is the key to making progress towards the goals. The majority of safety programs or plans do not incorporate a method for assessing the advancement of the plan and its affects on employees and management other than counting incidents, accidents, or injuries. This reactive method does not allow for either benchmarks or advances to be evaluated. Develop or obtain a survey or questionnaire can provide a “barometer” of the affects of the plan/programs progress. With this information and data, employees and management can gauge the affects of the plan at regular intervals. Determining the status of these factors provides practical and proactive data so that means and methods can be directed/redirected towards individuals or areas of concern. v Progressive Reward Programs and Recognition Events. In an advanced culture of safety the primary motivator for employees’ safety performance is going home alive, unhurt, and insuring that their co-workers do the same everyday. Rewards and recognition reinforce and enhance confidence and pride and strengthen an individual’s desire to achieve improve their safety environment and performance. Recognizing and encouraging the use of incentives, rewards, and performance-based recognition events is as vital to encouraging and promoting the any safety plan or program. Some key elements of successful reward programs are;
Match the reward or recognition to the action or event. A reward too little discourages involvement; too much allows no room for up ward movement on values as the program progresses.
Match the reward or recognition with employee, staff and community demographic. Understanding what is considered an incentive or reward will vary greatly based on the employee group socioeconomic and ethnicity basis.
Rewards programs and recognition events should be fun, progressive and utilized for both promotion and achievement.
Ensure rewards and recognition are timely and specific. The reward must be presented at the time of the event.
Improving safety is a significant event and, therefore, should have an equal reward and recognition for achieving. It should be celebrated.
Rewards and recognition should not be considered a depreciating asset. Safety Performance is Great Business. Budget for rewards and recognition not injuries and incidents annually.
Achieving improved safety performance requires that a program not only include “how” to be safe but “why” it is imperative that we act safely. By taking advantage of and providing means and methods to conditioning the thoughts, actions, and behaviors of management and employees we can enhance understanding of safety and why safe activity is imperative to both the individuals and the organization.
Safety Performance is Great Business! Top performing companies around the world seek out and implement performance improvement in all areas. They are constantly identifying new or improved means and methods for products or services, sales and marketing, work flow, engineering systems, customer service, accounting methods, information technology, and safety performance. They recognize that improved performance in all areas of the business will typically result in great company performance and enable a company to grow. The quest for improvement in these areas is conditioned, however, and the actions by the employees and staff reflect that conditioning. New equipment designs that eliminate risk but also improve quality and production efficiency have been developed and, in some cases, have become the industry standard. Improved work-flow processes that provide risk elimination together with improved efficiency and cost reductions have been developed and implemented based on improving safety performance. Ultimately, this process does affect the bottom line, positively. The power that you unleash when your employees are engaged in improving your business goes beyond the P&L, and it is great business. A culture or safety enables individuals, independently or as a group, to seek out, initiate, and improve their safety environment. It becomes self-promoting, an energy source pulsing through the organization. It is extremely powerful and rewarding to see it in action, and see people excited about safety, focused on identifying risks and at-risk behaviors, looking out for others, and going home safely every day. Eliminating risks and unsafe behaviors becomes a way of life at work, at play, and at home! Safety Performance is great business and the culture that evolves when you strive for it is powerful. It is true that when safety performance advances there are significant financial benefits to the organization. It also provides additional positive benefits in other aspects of your business including:
Employee motivation, morale and retention!
Business & operational processes improvements.
Insurance company confidence and insurance cost reductions.