Three Reasons Why Your Safety Programs Are Not Improving Safety Performance!

Three Reasons Why Your Safety Programs Are Not Improving Safety Performance, Creating a Culture of Safety, or Achieving Zero! Implementing or deciding to implement an active “safety program” is a vital step in providing for safety performance improvement. However, the majority of companies/organizations do not take a long-term view of their goals and, subsequently, implement plans that are theoretically “empty.” As with many programs that see minimal success or goal achievement, they often become less and less of a focus by the organization and ultimately end up cancelled or just forgotten. If your company has already implemented a “safety program” with minimal to little success, there are typically three independent or combined reasons why that safety program is, and will not be, successful!

1. Zero Injuries has not been established as the only safety performance goal that is acceptable!

2. Your “safety program” is ineffective, obsolete, and unaccepted.

3. Your “safety program” does not employ conditioning models, means, and methods.

Reason 1: Zero injuries have not been established as the only goal that is acceptable!

How many companies have set the goal of Zero for their safety performance? They have probably set the goal of Zero for product defects, quality issues, production downtime, late deliveries, and customer service complaints! If you have set the goal of Zero for any other function within your operation, why not for safety performance? Do you believe that “accidents and injuries just happen and that they are a part of doing business” or “accidents are inevitable?” “Other industries or companies can achieve Zero but the nature of our product/service and operations/production is inherently risky and, therefore, Zero is unobtainable!” Does Zero seem like an unrealistic goal? Would you agree that establishing a goal at anything greater than Zero sends the wrong message to management, employees, and staff? What does it say if you set a goal greater than Zero? Are some accidents okay? What accidents are acceptable? When put into this context, isn’t the obvious answer Zero? No accident is okay and none are acceptable! When Zero is established as the only acceptable standard for safety performance, the management, employees, and staff all have a defined goal that can be visualized and achieved.

Can Zero be Achieved?Think of it this way: Most organizations are already at Zero at any given moment. Companies go through stretches of time when there are zero incidents, accidents, or injuries. It is the lack of cultural conditioning that prevents many from consistently achieving Zero. The safety performance standards across all industries have increased substantially over the last several years. Many companies from all types of industries have set Zero as their goal–and many have achieved this incredible accomplishment! Construction, manufacturing, and mining companies have achieved Zero; records in excess of 8,000,000 man-hours without a lost time injury have been achieved. Zero can be achieved!

Reason 2: Your current “safety program” is ineffective, obsolete, and not accepted by employees.┬áThe reality is that most companies already have a safety plan or program. These plans or programs typically exist in three forms; the “Compliance” plan, the “Cost Cutting” program, and the “How To” program.

The “Compliance” Safety Plan – “Compliance” plans are typically implemented for regulatory compliance, i.e., OSHA or other regulatory requirements. Every company should have a compliance safety plan in place. In the case of an accident or injury, the regulatory agency or insurance company will request a copy of this plan. If there is no plan in place there may be severe penalties, fines, and associated costs. Compliance is only one aspect of an effective safety plan. They have little or no visibility by the employees and often do not provide methods for improving an employee’s culture and behavior towards eliminating risk or preventing incidents, accidents or injuries.

The “Cost-Cutting” Program– These are safety programs implemented for the sole purpose of “cost cutting” or “profit improvement measures.” Nothing destroys, on inception, a safety program which is implemented on the basis of “cost cutting” or “profit improvement measures.”Employees are bombarded with cost improvement measures annually, new programs, methods, equipment, and of course new management. All of these cost improvement measures do little, if anything, to improve the employee’s safety or motivation towards improving safety. Employees view these as empty programs and as another attempt to enrich others, namely the owners, and/or management of the company.

The “How to” Program– “How to” programs are tools in the quest for improved safety performance and achieving Zero. However, they often fail because there is no attempt to change the thinking, and therefore the actions, of your employees. Implementation of “How to” programs will allow the employees and management to gain a level of acceptance as they acknowledge that there are risks and the goal is to eliminate these risks via proper techniques and process. These programs are often one dimensional as they focus only on a particular activity or process, and they do little to change the thinking towards safe activity. All of these safety plans or programs contain missing links to improved safety performance. They fail to introduce and promote the use of vital techniques and strategies to enable employees to; 1. Achieve enrollment into and acceptance of the plan/program. 2. Identify and eliminate risk and prevent incident & accidents.In general these “plans” fail to protect the individuals who will benefit the most from an advanced culture of safety and improved safety performance

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