Beyond the Status Quo: Building a Strategic Safety Approach
Updated: Jul 18
In safety management, relying on the same old approaches and adding more initiatives won't lead to significant improvements. Organizations must embrace strategic thinking and challenge existing practices to achieve true safety excellence. In this article, we will explore seven fundamental questions that can help organizations assess their safety strategies and identify areas for improvement.
Question 1: Do you have a shared vision of safety excellence?
Creating a clear and accurate vision of what safety excellence entails is essential. It should go beyond the cliché of "lack of accidents" and focus on the factors that make accidents disappear. Assess whether your current vision effectively guides the efforts of your workforce and consider better ways to communicate and reinforce it.
Question 2: What is the priority and value of safety?
Safety should be a non-negotiable priority in your organization. Evaluate whether the perceived importance of safety is consistent across all levels and if workers are equipped to make informed decisions when safety and production compete. Consider refining your communication to emphasize the importance of safety and improve workplace decision-making.
Question 3: Who manages safety?
Determine whether the safety department solely manages safety or if it is a collective responsibility shared by all employees. Assess whether workers have the training and resources to effectively manage their safety. Explore alternative approaches to safety management and evaluate the potential benefits of involving others in safety responsibilities.
Question 4: What is the desired style of safety management?
Define the desired style of safety management in your organization. Assess whether safety managers align with this style and whether it produces the desired outcomes. Consider alternative management styles that better contribute to your vision of safety excellence.
Question 5: How is safety communicated?
Evaluate your current safety communication practices. Assess the content, frequency, and effectiveness of your messages. Determine if safety communication aligns with knowledge and decision-making guidelines. Ensure that lessons learned from accidents and near misses are effectively shared and acted upon.
Question 6: Are your safety programs fit for purpose?
Assess whether your safety programs, such as training initiatives or off-the-shelf programs, create synergy or chaos within your safety framework. Consider whether these programs align well with each other and if they contribute to your overall safety goals. Explore alternative programs that may better suit your organization's needs.
Question 7: Are your safety metrics effective?
Evaluate your safety metrics and determine if they provide meaningful insights and enable proactive management. Assess whether your metrics focus solely on lagging indicators or if you have developed prescriptive and predictive metrics. Ensure that safety managers feel in control of the factors that drive safety outcomes and have metrics that guide workers effectively.
Achieving true safety excellence requires organizations to break free from the traditional and embrace a strategic approach. By asking and answering the seven fundamental questions discussed in this article, organizations can identify areas for improvement and develop a robust safety strategy. Adding more programs and processes won't lead to meaningful improvement unless they align with a strategic framework. Embrace the journey of continuous improvement and be willing to challenge the status quo to achieve world-class safety excellence.