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Zero harm: it’s a new safety culture movement that focuses on what it says: providing a completely safe environment for workers, contractors, and visitors on a daily basis.
Zero harm culture has been highly criticized as being impossible to achieve and unrealistic to expect, yet that hasn’t stopped the new approach from gaining steam even in spite of its controversial nature. Here’s what you need to know about zero harm culture, what it entails, how it works, and the unique challenges safety managers face in trying to implement such an approach.
Zero harm culture is deceptively simple as a safety approach. It’s simple because it truly does mean what it says: creating work environments where there is zero harm occurring to workers and visitors. It’s deceptive, of course, because many will say that a 100% safety rate is practically impossible. Yet this hasn’t stopped individuals and companies from adopting zero harm culture approaches anyway, even in the face of criticism that these approaches are misguided.
However, it’s unlikely that any company that chooses to adopt a zero harm culture approach is unaware of these limitations. The commitment to zero harm, even in the face of the seemingly impossible, is what’s important, though; a zero harm target for workplace safety shows that a company is truly committed to the safety of their staff to the point that it actively strives to achieve the impossible just in order to make their workplace as safe as possible.
Like any workplace safety approach, zero harm culture revolves around reducing the risk of incidents occurring, their severity if they do occur, and, if possible, avoiding workplace accidents in the first place.
The difference with zero harm approaches is that they are, arguably, the most proactive and diligent ones out there, as these approaches are obviously much more stringent than other approaches because of the goal of achieving zero harm.
From personnel management to risk management, reporting, and beyond, everything about zero harm culture needs to be as advanced as possible, requiring the use of cutting-edge tools and approaches that are meant to provide the most consistent workplace safety over time without also resulting in stifling work environments that erode productivity and efficiency.
Adopting a zero harm culture at work is, to be sure, a major commitment of both time and resources for something that many feel is an impossible goal. It’s a decidedly Quixotic activity, quite literally the equivalent of tilting at windmills and expecting to win.
Yet it’s clear that even the most dedicated safety professionals that believe in zero harm know it’s next to impossible to achieve such a goal. For proponents of zero harm, reaching that milestone isn’t as important as being committed to trying to reach it, even if it’s an unrealistic one. That’s what zero harm culture truly entails.
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