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In 2018, workplace injuries cost a whopping $170.8 billion, an average of $1,100 per worker. How did we get here?
Unfortunately, safety is often a neglected area of companies’ business plans. But as the numbers show, it shouldn’t be. And in companies that do strive for a truly safe work environment, there’s still room for improvement.
What drives the most effective safety programs? We could fill libraries with the myriad tools that make a safety program tick, but most of the time, it comes down to two key themes: leadership and commitment.
Leadership is one of the top three most consistent factors that make or break a safety program. The problem, for many programs, is not a lack of desire to lead, but rather a lack of understanding.
Many safety programs intend to lead when, in reality, they’re managing. It sounds like semantics, but the gap between managing and leading is a gulf with significant consequences for your approach.
Managing is a practical consideration dealing with getting things done. Managing is what looks at a task list and ensures every item on that list is completed. Leading is inspirational, dealing with vision and values. Safety leadership is what motivates workers to take safety to heart, even when no one is watching.
The gulf between a safety program that manages and a safety program that leads is stark. A safety program that manages deals with safety as a task, one more priority to take care of. A safety program that leads treats safety as a core value, something that underpins everything you do. A program that manages deals with safety incidents in a punitive fashion. A program that leads takes proactive steps to ensure workplace accidents don’t happen and inspires workers to learn and do better next time.
Leadership is closely entwined with commitment. Keep in mind, however, that commitment is not limited to one group.
Safety commitment is not the sole domain of your EHS team, or your workers, or your upper management. Safety is a commitment on everyone’s part, because everyone is responsible for creating a safety work environment every single day, working together to ensure everyone goes home safe and sound.
We mentioned earlier that leading safety programs treat safety as a core value. That’s equally true of commitment. When you treat safety as a core value, you think of it as part of everything you do, even if the task at hand doesn’t involve an obvious hazard. Thinking of safety as a core value goes hand-in-hand with commitment, because commitment requires following through on safety in every individual aspect of your work.
Of course, leadership and commitment are abstract concepts. They’re enacted in the workplace in practical ways, through the tools you use to implement your safety program. In other words, the tools you use to enact safety are also the tools you use to drive your overall safety program mentality.
We’re proud to provide the safety solutions that drive the most effective safety programs in the business. Let us empower your business today. Get in touch to find out how we can change the way you approach safety.
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