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You’ve just kicked off your safety program. Or maybe you recently rebooted it. One way or another, your safety program is looking bright and shiny.
But the key to an effective safety program is more than just big ideas. You have to be realistic about what your program can (and cannot) accomplish.
What will an employee safety program not accomplish? It’s just as important a question as what it will accomplish. Here’s what employers need to keep in mind.
When a safety program is done right, there’s quite a lot that it might be achieved.
The biggest mileage comes from building a strong safety culture. The best safety programs will build a positive work environment where employees feel supported. They will foster a sense of shared responsibility, where every employee participates in safety because they want to look out for each other.
A good safety program will achieve a reduction in your accident rates, but this is not your sole objective. Chasing accident rates is a lagging indicator, and by focusing too much on accident rates with incentives for lower numbers, you incentivize employees to hide injuries. Instead, a good safety program achieves accident reduction as a natural consequence of a healthier safety culture.
That said, there are plenty of things a safety program will not accomplish. This often comes down to realism.
For example, a zero-accident workplace is an admirable objective, but it’s not realistic. Accidents will happen. Instead, a zero-harm culture is a better objective, wherein everyone recognizes that accidents are sometimes outside of our control and does everything to avoid safety issues that are within our control.
In addition, while a safety program can strengthen your safety culture, the simple fact of implementing a program does not automatically mean you have a good safety culture. Your program is merely the written rules governing safety at work. Your safety culture is how everyone understands and applies those rules, and that shows up in salient behaviors–like managers not holding themselves accountable for the same safety rules as employees. In order to build a strong safety culture, you need to do more than change the rules. You need to change how everyone thinks about the rules.
Last but not least, even the best safety program will not achieve results overnight. Safety is a journey, not a destination, and you’ll work at it for your company’s entire lifespan. As long as you keep in mind that safety is a process and hold yourself to high standards of success, you can still achieve great results.
What will an employee safety program not accomplish? In short, your safety program is not a magic bullet. Safety requires real work, and you need to be ready to commit.
Fortunately, having the right tools for the job makes your work a lot easier. Like our safety management software, which makes it easy to understand your current safety landscape and chart your progress toward your objectives. So if you’re ready to get started on a safer workday, get in touch today to learn more about how our software can help.
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