OSEA Safety News

How do we Make Safety a Priority?

Monday, January 21st, 2019

How do we Make Safety a Priority?

You don’t! Surprising response to this often-asked question. We’ve tried over the years, as our humanist tendency compels us to set safety as the standard. Yet, our “blind eye” puts it behind other workplace concerns. Safety First! While we do make continual improvements, those come from regulatory pressure, technological advancements and a clear change from a heavy industrial complex to a service driven economy. Serious accidents still occur at an unacceptable rate,* especially in industry and in construction. We have also lagged in adjusting our thinking to prevention in the service sector with ergonomics being a prime concern.

What’s the answer? Safety needs only to be a common thread mixed within all the other threads of the workplace. Part of the common fabric of planning, decision making and expectation-at all levels. Just an automatic part of what we plan and do.

Start with culture. We sure do over work that phrase. But the truth is, it is important and the very factor that separates average from exceptional. Some companies have found the formula to achieve the expectation of a safe work environment. With our basic socialization within the workplace and hierarchy of position and leadership, it’s not surprising that it starts at the top! Management sets the tone, the pace, and the expectation. Culture emanates from this simple fact. Management sets the culture, not the employee, and to think passing this responsibility down the line to them is the answer, only sets an improper expectation and the foundation for excuse. (Effective management does not work toward minimal compliance to regulations as an expectation; they espouse an, “Is It Safe” environment. This equals the concern for profitability and quality).

Empowering employees to be part of the process gets them to have a vested interest, gets them to work automatically in a safe manner and not just toward minimal compliance.

Profitability, quality, and safety are several fabrics of the same cloth!

* 2016 BLS statistics show an increase of 7% for private sector fatalities (5190 fatal injuries). 2017 shows a slight decline.

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