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Common Mistakes in Your Health & Safety Program and What to Do Instead

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on October 27, 2020 at 4:58 PM

Most of the time, when you turn a critical eye to your health and safety program, you’re looking for ways to help your program succeed. Unfortunately, there are many ways that a program can go astray, even when you’re trying to emulate successful programs.

The good (or bad) news is that many programs make the same set of mistakes, which means that there’s plenty of room for your program to learn from the mistakes of others. Here’s a look at some of the most common health and safety mistakes professionals make and what you can do to avoid them.

Top Management Isn’t Leading Safety

This is by far one of the most common mistakes for a health & safety program to make. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most insidious.

Safety leadership paves the way for safety success at all levels, setting a positive example for workers to follow. The problem is that many leaders set a poor safety example without even realizing it.

The most common version of poor leadership is lackluster commitment to safety. Or, put another way, applying the safety rules to everyone except management. This makes the dangerous statement that safety is really a matter of hypocrisy and it sets the tone for widespread disengagement.

Another version of poor leadership is a lack of ownership for the safety system. In this case, management may be committed to safety, but they also tend to think of safety as the employees’ problem, which runs the risk of treating safety as a punitive measure.

Instead, management needs to set the example they want to see in their employees, and they need to take ownership at all levels. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and that means everyone plays an equally critical role in safety.

Not Using Leading Indicators

Even in organizations where leaders are committed, many health & safety programs hit a familiar stumbling block in dealing with safety incidents. Many of them rely on the crutch of lagging indicators rather than taking a balanced approach to leading and lagging indicators.

Leading indicators are the indicators that warn of an accident before it happens, which means you have the opportunity to stop the accident before it happens. Lagging indicators, as the name implies, lag after an accident has already happened – things like injury statistics or near-miss numbers.

Unfortunately, this particular bad habit is hard to break because it’s easier to track lagging indicators. On the other hand, lagging indicators are easier to track because they only show up after an incident, which means the safety issue has already come to a head.

To be clear, both have their place in a well-rounded health & safety program, but you can’t rely too heavily on one or the other. The key is to strike a balance and try to find a proactive approach.

Creating a Better Health & Safety Program

Here’s the good news: most of the time, creating a stronger health & safety program begins with awareness. Once you’re aware that there’s a problem, you can take steps to fix it.

After that, it all comes down to the right tools. That’s why we created safety software designed for EHS professionals, allowing you to take a bird’s eye view of your program and drive real results.

Ready to change your program for the better? Then get in touch today to learn more.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, EHS Management, Safety Management, Safety Culture

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