♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Feb 2013

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is the role of leadership.

     

The Rot Starts At The Top

Leadership responsibility in safety

Picture: conductor of orchestra

     

Leaders have to be like the conductor of an orchestra. They select the music, dictate the tune and tempo, and ensure that all employees practice the safety habits so that together they can deliver a masterpiece.

There are, of course, other aspects as well, like setting expectations, holding each player accountable, giving feedback and recognition, etc. Nonetheless, the leaders have to invest their most precious resource to do all of this, namely their TIME. They have to be VIP’s – Visible, Involved and Pro-active – to show their employees that they are serious about safety. This is a tough call because there are so many other issues demanding the leader’s time – costs, quality, productivity, customer service …

The leader is accountable for the safety strategy, for looking ahead to what will be done tomorrow (rather than what is being done today or, even worse, what has been done yesterday!), for thinking, visualising the goal and for formulating the plan of how to get there.

There are 3 key habits which the leaders have to practice in this regard:

  1. Leaders have to formulate and communicate the safety vision and strategy. This is critical. For employees to follow, they need to know where the leader is heading and how he/she plans to get there.
  2. Leaders have to ensure that a culture of taking ACTION, in terms of safety, exists in the organization. Nothing kills the commitment and engagement in safety as quickly as a lack of ACTION. When employees see that nothing is being done about safety incidents or observations, then safety will not be a priority for them either. Taking (safety) ACTION goes way beyond pasting the SHE Policy on the walls!
  3. Leaders have to review the safety strategy. If the desired / anticipated results are not being achieved, then doing more of the same is not going to help. The leader has to look for different ways of doing things and the review should be ongoing, not only once every two years.

ACTION

Here is my challenge to you.

Use the download from my web site dealing with “Vision & Strategy” to examine what you have in place in your organization in terms of your safety strategy. Use the technique in that write-up as a checklist to formulate or review your safety vision and strategy.

It is important that leaders understand that changing the SHE culture is a transformation process and not an event. It takes years to implement such a culture change on a sustainable basis. Most companies run these short-term campaigns like ZERO ACCIDENTS, SAFETY FIRST, NO INJURIES, etc., but do not have a strategy and long-term plan in place.

The first step in formulating a safety strategy is to do the diagnostics. Look at the links below for excellent examples of what I am talking about – plus an outstanding communication effort by the NPC (National Planning Commission):

BTW. As active, adult citizens you should take an interest in what the NPC is doing to shape the future of this country!

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