The Value of Safety Beyond Risk Reduction
Updated: Jul 18
To my fellow safety professionals, I urge you to abandon the notion that your ultimate goal should be working yourself out of a job. By perpetuating this idea, we reinforce the belief that our role is solely to reduce risk rather than add value. However, risk reduction and zero injuries are by-products of safety's value, not the ultimate objectives. In this article, we will explore the concept of shifting our focus from results to value contribution and the transformative impact it can have on safety culture and organizational success.
Moving Beyond Zero Injuries: The Value of Safety
If our sole focus is on achieving zero injuries, we limit our perception of safety's true potential. While it may seem counterintuitive, organizations are not looking for job-hopping safety professionals who merely achieve short-term goals. They seek strategic leaders committed to long-term, transformational change. Safety is about contributing value to quality, productivity, customer experience, and employee experience. When safety becomes ingrained in the culture and shared mindset of an organization, it positively impacts the lives of all those affected by its efforts.
Beyond Luck: Purposeful Intent and Sustainable Value
The achievement of zero injuries should not be attributed to luck. Sustainable value is created when safety efforts are driven by purposeful intent. Anyone can achieve zero injuries for a brief period, but the real challenge lies in understanding how those results were achieved and sustaining them over time. This requires a shift in focus from short-term outcomes to long-term performance and cultural transformation.
Embracing Strategy and Leadership
Safety excellence requires strategic thinking and well-defined safety roles, responsibilities, and results. When leadership support is observable, consistent, and universal, safety professionals might feel that their job is done. However, the journey to safety excellence must encompass a focus on culture, not just results. Cultures are ever-changing, and what may be viewed as acceptable risks today may become unacceptable tomorrow. By shifting our perspective and prioritizing culture over compliance, we prepare ourselves for future challenges and maintain a proactive approach.
Expanding Value: Tools and Cultures
The tools and practices used to improve safety performance and culture can extend beyond the realm of safety and be applied to other areas of operations. When we focus on adding value, we create better results and a positive work environment. Safety becomes an ally rather than a compliance obligation. By demonstrating the value of safety in multiple ways, we foster a culture where people actively engage with and support safety professionals.
Believing in the Value of Safety
If you find yourself questioning the value that safety adds, it may be time to reflect on your own perspective. Safety is not just a checkbox or a compliance task; it is a vital component of organizational success and well-being. By embracing the value of safety and shifting our focus from results to performance and culture, we can create a better future for our organizations and the people within them.
As safety professionals, our role extends far beyond reducing risk and achieving zero injuries. It is about adding value to our organizations through the enhancement of quality, productivity, customer experience, and employee experience. By shifting our focus from short-term outcomes to long-term cultural transformation, we become catalysts for change and ensure sustainable safety excellence. Let us embrace the value of safety, inspire others to join us on this journey, and create a future where safety is valued, respected, and integral to organizational success.