Safety is Hard Work
Workplace safety is often assumed to be someone else’s job, common sense, or just a matter of luck. In fact, it takes a lot of dedicated focus by all members of an organization in order to be successful. Vince Lombardi might have stated it best when he said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
All businesses must place safety as an equal priority with production and quality. That means it takes a lot of work to keep safety on everyone’s mind, to continually improve processes and policies, and to instill a culture that deems injuries as unacceptable. The old saying, “Safety is no accident” is overused, but it really is true.
There are many elements to an overall safety program. There may be a safety team or committee, a safety coordinator or manager, or a compliance person to deal with OSHA, DOT, FMCSA, FAA, or other federal and/or state organizations. Safety training is ongoing and ever evolving and there’s always the challenge of new-hire orientation. The list can go on and on, but most importantly there must be an organizational structure that supports safety on the front-line. The supervisors in the shop, the store managers, the driver supervisors, or the office managers must understand their role in preventing injury and have the support of the entire organization.
Having a thick “safety manual” is not the basis of a true safety program. It may be an important element or tool in the effort to keep people safe, but the true measure of a program’s success lies in the level of dedication demonstrated by all employees. Employees must be fully trained, use the right equipment, and have an understanding of the overall company goals as well as feel they have a say in safety related issues. Front-line managers should have specific safety duties and responsibilities and be able to instill accountability in their assigned workers. Leadership should support the front-line managers and give them the resources required. Lastly, owners and CEO’s have to be leading the way, support their management teams, and recognize the need to balance safety, productivity, and safety.
Building a successful safety program is a lot of work and it requires a lot of resources. But the payback can be significant and long lasting. A dollar spent today on safety will likely come back many times over as workers continue to be productive, motivated, and healthy. Safety is not just a checklist or a bit of regulatory training. It involves all people, top to bottom, with a belief that all injuries are preventable.
Check out the Safety Director at MEMIC.com for safety related resources in order to start building, or improving, your company’s safety program. With the new year around the corner this is a pretty good time to review your program, your losses, your successes, and set a plan for the year to come. Best of luck to you… but remember, safety is not luck, it’s manageable!