The leadership skills required to successfully manage safety are the same skills needed to manage top-notch operations: attention to detail, focused execution, standardized and disciplined processes, an understanding of roles, meaningful metrics, personal accountability and alignment around the group mission and vision. There is no “secret ingredient” that makes safety leadership different from overall organizational and operational leadership.
While this is easy to say, it is more challenging to implement. I have released a NEW on-line course – Making Safety Happen – that teaches you how to grow your safety culture. Whether you are getting started, struggling, or seeking to bring your culture to a new level, this course will help you.
Among other topics, Making Safety Happen focuses on the following twelve principles that serve as foundational elements as you lead a culture of positive safety:
This is not a grassroots affair. A culture of positive safety must be leadership driven, but employee owned. Waiting for a healthy safety culture to “bubble up” will not work. Safety starts with you, and you cannot delegate it.
A great safety culture is a journey. It is not a destination. You will never achieve total safety. The benefit to the organization is achieved in the journey itself. Along the way, we must continually challenge “status quo” thinking and ensure organizational learning from incidents and close calls.
Safety must be a core value of the enterprise. Safety is not a priority. It is a non–negotiable core value. Priorities change. Values do not. Nothing can compete for safety in your company.
Zero is the only acceptable goal. Although 99.9 percent is a pretty good performance standard in most business arenas, it’s not when it comes to safety. If you accept one preventable accident, you might as well accept one hundred. Zero is a mindset. You may never achieve it. Conversely, without a mindset of zero you will never achieve safety excellence.
It is a low-cost solution. No big-capital expenditures are needed.You set an example by how you think and act.
Safety goes beyond compliance. Just because you are compliant does not mean you are safe. Regulations, rules and laws are the baseline. Great safety requires far more effort.
Leaders should focus on execution. Execute the basics, and the battle is nearly won.
Focus on at-risk behaviors. Addressing behavior can prevent the majority of incidents.
Safety success in the past doesn’t guarantee safety success in the future. There must be a leadership obsession with continuous improvement. Good can be bad. When things are going well, we may let our guard down. That is when complacency creeps in.
SOPs must be understandable by the intended audience.Ensure SOPs are meaningful, understandable and followed.Employees cannot be held accountable for failing to follow SOPs they do not understand.
Make safety personal. Safety starts with the heart. Create compelling emotional reasons for your team to own safety. Speaking only in terms of numbers does not work. Focus on the people involved in accidents and their families and how they are impacted. Take safety from the abstract and attach real humans to the equation.
Look in the mirror. Accept the fact that your company can cause safety failures. That means the organization has a role, usually a huge role, regarding fault when something goes wrong. Some examples include employees developing work-aroundsinstead of following procedures, the organization not learning from prior events and precursors, senior management giving only lip service to safety, management not knowing what is driving safety performance and the organization using incorrect metrics to gauge safety.
No matter what we say or do to align our company with the understanding that safety is a core, nonnegotiable value, it doesn’t matter unless our front lines are fully with us. If our employees fail to adopt safety as an ongoing commitment, it won’t take long for the holes in the armor to show up. However, if our people get behind this mission, we are well on our way toward establishing the kind of safety culture that we want, and that will contribute to our bottom-line success.
Accept the fact that you will have people in your organization working against you. These employees must join the mission or leave the company. There is no middle ground. You will experience safety failures along the journey. Naysayers will be quick to use the failures as an indictment of your leadership. Stay the course. Eliminate the noise, and don’t accept defeat.
ABOUT MAKING SAFETY HAPPEN:
Eager to obtain tools to build sustainable solutions when it comes to workplace safety?
Don’t miss this opportunity to attend an exclusive TCA-member offering — Making Safety Happen — as we offer a second cohort which is set to begin December 4.
In September, TCA and sponsor DriverReach announced a new collaboration with Fielkow, one which offers TCA members the opportunity to attend exclusive TCA-member only online courses and instructor-led VIP workshops.
As with the first round of courses, TCA members access all benefits for only $850; a savings of nearly $1,200. To ensure participation in the second cohort, attendees must register by November 30. Space is limited.
To learn more, or to get started, visit the following web page.