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Adding Value to Workers: The Key to Excellent Safety Efforts

Updated: Dec 19, 2023


In the realm of organizational safety, a paradigm shift is underway. Moving beyond the traditional approach of merely controlling workers, successful organizations are now focusing on adding value to their employees. This article delves into six key differentiators that distinguish world-class safety organizations from those struggling to improve. By adopting a customer-centric view towards workers and striving to meet their needs, organizations can significantly enhance their safety efforts and foster continuous improvement.


Refocusing Goals: From Avoiding Failure to Achieving Success

Top-tier safety organizations differentiate themselves by having a clear vision of success in their safety endeavors. Rather than setting goals based merely on reducing failure rates, these organizations aim for proactive, positive measures, with a vision of achieving 100% safety. This approach shifts the organizational culture towards a mindset of continuous improvement, driving safety numbers as low as possible.


Proactive Over Reactive: Emphasizing Prevention

Excellence in safety is largely defined by actions taken before accidents occur. High-performing organizations view safety as a series of positive, preventative actions rather than merely avoiding negative outcomes. In contrast, organizations with lesser safety performance often focus on post-accident improvements. By prioritizing proactive efforts, organizations can stay ahead of potential incidents, fostering a culture of anticipation and ongoing enhancement.


Balanced Metrics: The Role of Leading Indicators

While many organizations rely on lagging indicators like accidents and near-misses to gauge their safety performance, world-class safety organizations understand the significance of leading indicators. They develop a balanced safety scorecard, incorporating leading indicators across three levels that influence lagging indicators. This approach allows for a more comprehensive assessment of safety efforts and facilitates continuous improvement.


Worker-Centric Mindset: From Controlling to Valuing Employees

A critical difference between top safety performers and others lies in their perspective towards workers. Instead of viewing employees as potential problems needing control, exemplary organizations see them as customers of their safety initiatives. By listening to and addressing workers' needs, these organizations not only engage employees but also significantly enhance safety outcomes.


Logical and Valuable Safety Rules and Procedures

In world-class safety organizations, rules and procedures are not just regulations; they are logical systems that add real value. Involving workers in the development of these protocols ensures that they are practical, understandable, and align with employees' experiences. When rules are perceived as logical and valuable, compliance and respect for these guidelines naturally follow.


Focused and Phased Improvement

Effective organizations understand the importance of prioritizing and phasing their improvement efforts. Rather than attempting to address all issues simultaneously, they break down initiatives into manageable steps. This approach not only reduces overwhelm but also enhances employee buy-in and creates a perception of attainable change, contributing to a culture of ongoing improvement.


The journey towards safety excellence requires organizations to shift their focus from controlling to valuing their workers. By defining success in positive terms, emphasizing proactive measures, engaging employees as valued customers, and implementing logical, phased improvements, organizations can significantly enhance their safety outcomes. Remember, the essence of safety is not just about compliance; it's about genuinely valuing and protecting the well-being of every individual in the organization.

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