Blanchester Area Chamber of Commerce
Blanchester, OH 45107
RAISING THE BAR FOR SAFETY

By
Gary W. Hanson, President of
American Safety and Health Management Consultants, Inc.

When I visit a company to review their Safety Program, I always ask if they have a Safety Accountability Program in place. Most of the time the answer is no. The answer to this question often determines how much emphasis a company places on its Safety Program. Safety should be a key part of every company's Management Program. It should rank near the top of the most important things each company does to be successful.

Ask yourself this question, is there anything more important than your employee's safety while they are working for you? I think that most of us would agree that there isn't anything more important. Yet many companies do not place sufficient emphasis on safety. Granted no one wants an employee to be injured and most employees do not deliberately put themselves at risk for serious injury.

The problem is accidents are unexpected, no one plans to have one. They are, however, to a large extent preventable. In fact, 90% of all accidents can be prevented. I have reviewed thousands of accident investigations and I have discovered an interesting thing, it is not the big things that cause most accidents, it is the little everyday things that cause more accidents. The causes of these unfortunately do not stand out and are not presented as dangerous or unsafe. Most accidents happen from repeated activities that go unnoticed or unexpected. Employees get used to doing these and do not believe they are dangerous. Once engrained in their behavior, changing this behavior can be very difficult.

Supervisors either do not recognize situations where unsafe behavior occurs or are reluctant to take corrective action. I see this frequently when I visit client companies. I will see employees working unsafely, yet many times if I am with a supervisor they do not see it. I have also seen where supervisors are reluctant to enforce safety rules. I understand that supervisors are busy and have a lot of responsibility. I also recognize the fact that most supervisors are reluctant to cause unnecessary problems and additional work.

Unsafe behavior acts or unsafe work conditions put employees at risk of injury and the company at risk to financial losses. This is unnecessary and counter productive. Many companies recognize this fact and have taken the necessary steps to eliminate these situations. They have raised the bar on their safety expectations. Supervisors and employees recognize that safety is important to the company and the company puts a high value on it. It starts out with:
* A clear commitment from upper management that is communicated to all levels.
* Safety performance is not optional but demanded.
* Supervisors are held accountable.
* Effective training programs are in place for both supervisors and employees.
* Safety rules are enforced the same way other rules are enforced.
* Yearly safety goals are established.
* Employee suggestions are requested.
* Recognition and reward for good performance is provided.

Companies that have good Safety Programs establish high expectations for both supervisors and employees. There are no acceptable excuses for anything else. Employees understand the importance of working safely and thinking about their actions. Supervisors are held accountable for the safety of their employees. The safety performance of the company is measured and the result communicated to all employees. In other words they have Raised the Bar on Safety Expectations.

Safety is not a project or a program but an ongoing process aimed at continuous improvement. After all aren't your employees worth it?

If you have any safety related questions or need any help with your Safety Program, please call me at
1-800-356-1274.