In the previous two blogs, we discussed the importance of management and leadership setting the right example to promote a strong safety culture. We talked about the fact that many companies say that safety is their number one priority. However, their actions reveal a very different thing. Therefore, we consider in this article how a company can incorporate safety into its policies procedures and programs.
Safety must be integrated into all aspects of the company’s activities if it’s going to claim that safety is a core principle. Safety expectations must be set high. The company must clearly communicate those expectations, and the message must be consistent. Cost and productivity can be huge pressures that fight against safety, but they don’t have to be. A well-designed safety program accounts for these pressures and create safety protocol that cannot easily be altered. If safety is truly valued, it will not be impacted by productivity or cost pressures.
I often hear stories of supervisors who regularly preach safety. However, when company pressures arise, they don’t practice what they preach and turn a blind eye when employees begin to cut corners. This sets a bad example and an awful precedent, leading employees to believe that they can choose when to work in an unsafe manner if they think it’s convenient.
I am thinking of a couple of companies that have great reputations for safety. They have these great reputations because they set high standards and are consistent in enforcing them. the first example is Prizma, formerly known as Greenville Health System. Before anyone can begin work on Prizma property, a safety orientation is required. During that orientation, expectations are clearly defined. For instance, if any person is walking around without a hardhat, that one will be sent home. If it happens again, that person is sent home permanently. After implementing strict compliance, everyone fell in line. They rarely have a safety infraction and accidents are almost non- existent.
BMW is another Upstate company known for setting high safety standards and holding people accountable. I have been told by a few customers that they were sent home and replaced by another crew as a result of breaking a rule.
Part II will discuss ways that companies can integrate safety into their business plan and practices.