When I think of setting high expectations, two South Carolina companies come to mind: BMW and Greenville Health System (GHS). I have heard stories of crews sent home from BMW for failing to follow proper safety protocol. At GHS, if you are found not wearing your hard hat for instance, you will be sent home. If you are caught doing it again, you are terminated.
Everyone knows what to expect before ever setting foot on the work project. It is all part of the on-board training. When standards are not only set at that level but also enforced, it is rare anyone will break the rules. Therefore, they have an impeccable safety record.
It has been my experience that when expectations are not backed by consistent discipline, workers will test how far they can go and what they can get away with. Often, they end up cutting corners and engaging in unsafe work practices. Eventually, it is reflected in cost of OSHA fines and/or higher workers’ compensation premiums. And let’s not forget the opportunity cost of lost bids due to a bad safety record or reputation.
I often hear that big companies have the power and resources to require those standards. I am told that if a smaller contractor starts asking too much from a subcontractor, especially in this economy where there is a shortage of qualified workers, the subs will just leave and find another contractor.
How do you set high standards under those circumstances? That is a tough one to try and answer. I’m not sure if I have a suitable reply, but I will give it my best shot in the next safety blog.
Also I am conducting an English language OSHA 30 in General industry December 17-20 at my office. Contact us for a big discount coupon!