Safety and Liability in Practical Terms
Updated: Jul 18
In today's corporate landscape, safety procedures are increasingly being crafted by corporate attorneys and their teams. While addressing legal exposure is undoubtedly crucial, we must not overlook the essence of safety itself. If safety procedures are written in language that the average worker cannot comprehend or are too complex to remember, their implementation becomes a daunting challenge. Corporate attorneys must recognize that a well-documented procedure does not serve as an insurance policy against government regulators if it is not practiced consistently. Organizations have faced significant fines despite having excellent documentation because their actual practices did not align with the written procedures. To mitigate liability, it is essential for the people in the field to walk the talk and ensure that safety practices are ingrained in their daily routines.
Practical Implementation for Safety Excellence
Sometimes, all it takes is a condensed version of the procedure that is tailored to worker terminology and presented as an implementation plan. While the comprehensive legal document remains in place as the organizational goal, the shorter document serves as a practical guide to transforming that goal into reality within the workplace. This approach enables the alignment of legal requirements with practical implementation. I have found that regulators are more understanding of performance that falls short of the ideal if there is a well-defined plan in place to bridge the gap. Attorneys and safety staff should collaborate to ensure that procedures are not only legally sound but also practical and applicable to the workers' daily activities.
Balancing Safety and Liability
It is crucial to strike a balance between safety and liability considerations. Legal expertise is undoubtedly valuable in navigating the complex landscape of regulations and compliance. However, the ultimate goal should be to create a safety culture where procedures are not only legally defensible but also readily embraced by the workforce. Safety procedures should be designed with simplicity and clarity in mind, enabling workers to understand and implement them effectively. When legal language is translated into practical terms, the gap between liability concerns and safety practices can be bridged.
Safety and liability go hand in hand, but it is important not to prioritize one at the expense of the other. While legal exposure is a legitimate concern, the primary focus should always be on ensuring the safety and well-being of the workforce. By collaborating with safety staff, corporate attorneys can play a pivotal role in making safety procedures practical, applicable, and understandable. Remember, it is the consistent implementation of safety practices that truly mitigates liability, not just the presence of well-documented procedures. Let us strive for a workplace where safety is not merely a legal obligation but a shared commitment that permeates every aspect of our operations.