Empowering a workforce to achieve and sustain safety performance success begins with one critical question: Is safety a core value at your organization? Or, better yet, is it the organization’s principal value?
Is worker safety and health the foundation upon which everything else is built? It’s easy to test, to see and to feel when you achieve it.
The benefits of creating a principle-based safety culture are many. You feel it because it is real, it’s the norm, it’s the way things are done around here. You know a company has achieved it when:
- You read it in things such as vision and mission statements.
- The senior leadership team is engaged and actively demonstrating their value.
- You see plant managers and their direct teams on the manufacturing floor, engaging with and learning from the frontline
- Safety is perceived as a critical metric in how the facility measures itself, alongside the other business metrics.
- Meetings start with safety regardless of the meeting topic.
- You overhear chatter outside of work like a maintenance contractor discussing how tough it was to work at your facility because safety is active, its value protected and its process governed.
- Safety is part of your employee objectives, and performance is measured and rewarded.
- Employees are stopped before making a poor decision by a co-worker and challenged on the safest way to perform.
- When workers are congratulated when they deliver on safety performance.
How to Empower the Culture
In the past, organizations have been told that safety is a line-driven activity that must first be implemented at the bottom of an organization as a function of the management system and treated as a priority, working its way to the top as a set of metrics. But the reverse is true; safety must start with an organization’s senior management team. Leadership must demonstrate an active commitment to safety and promote that commitment with a passion throughout the entire organization.
To learn more about improving the safety culture at your organization, read my article, “The Principle-Based Safety Culture,” on p. 40 of the June issue of World of Safety & Health.