Moving Beyond Failure Rates
Updated: Jul 17
For decades, safety improvement has been measured by the failure rate, striving for lower numbers each year. While reducing incidents is a worthy goal, it should not be mistaken for a safety strategy. Many organizations fall into the trap of targeting rates without addressing the underlying issues. In this article, we will explore the limitations of focusing solely on failure rates and discuss key targets that can contribute to the development of a comprehensive improvement-based safety strategy.
Safety Leadership Skills: Effective safety leadership is crucial for driving change. Leaders should prioritize safety, communicate its value, and align on their approach. Assess your organization's leadership to determine if they possess the necessary skills and consider providing training to enhance their abilities. By improving safety leadership, you can make a significant impact on your organization's safety performance.
Performance Coaching: Managers and supervisors play a critical role in coaching employees towards improved safety performance. Unfortunately, few leaders receive formal training in coaching. Invest in coaching training programs to equip leaders with the skills to support their teams effectively. Reinforce and evaluate the application of these skills over time, ensuring they become ingrained in your safety culture.
Employee Involvement Opportunities: Active employee involvement leads to better safety outcomes. Create structures and opportunities for employees to participate in safety efforts. This could include joining safety programs, forming audit teams, or engaging in safety blitzes. Ensure that participation is encouraged, visible, and rewarded. By fostering employee involvement, you empower them to take ownership of their safety and contribute to overall improvement.
Improved Safety Communications: Effective safety communication is crucial for engaging employees. Evaluate your communication methods to ensure they are multi-media and impactful. Measure not only the sending but also the reception of safety messages. Aim for messages that are memorable and create focus and improvement. Continuously enhance your safety communication to keep it fresh and relevant.
Revised Safety Motivational Program: Traditional safety incentive plans often fall short in motivating workers effectively. Stay updated with the latest research on motivational strategies and consider revising your safety incentive program accordingly. Be cautious not to abruptly remove existing rewards or incentives. Transition gradually to a more effective program, leveraging the same budget.
Improved Safety Metrics: While lagging indicators are important, identifying leading indicators is crucial for predicting safety improvements. Choose leading indicators that align with the desired safety outcomes and measure progress towards those goals. Communicate the new metrics as part of your overall safety communication strategy, utilizing visible improvement as a motivator. By setting and achieving goals, you can foster a proactive safety culture focused on continuous improvement.
To develop a comprehensive safety strategy, organizations must move beyond simplistic failure rate targets. By focusing on key targets such as safety leadership, performance coaching, employee involvement, improved communication, revised motivational programs, and enhanced safety metrics, organizations can make significant strides towards safety excellence. Embrace strategic thinking and recognize the areas where your organization can drive the most impactful improvements. By thinking differently and implementing targeted strategies, you can build a culture of continuous safety improvement. Remember, success in safety comes from doing things differently and setting your sights on improvement rather than merely reducing failure rates.