Is "Safety First" at Your Organization?

We often see this slogan prominently displayed at businesses throughout the country. Safety First is a bold statement, one that, on the face of it, seems appropriate for any organization. After all, what is more important than the safety of your employees?

However, if this statement is examined closely a significant problem comes to light. Consider why a business is “in business." Generally, a service or a product is offered to customers. Bus companies transport people, widget makers manufacture widgets, and car insurance companies sell and service insurance policies.  Isn’t this really why these businesses exist? Safety isn’t first; offering these products or services is first. 

So, how should safety be prioritized? Surely it is important to a company’s bottom line, right? Yes, it sure is. It is so important that it needs to be given equal priority with all other business areas. I find the three-legged stool analogy to be effective in explaining how safety should become an integral part of all businesses.

The three legs of the stool are productivity, quality, and safety. As you know, a three-legged stool is extremely stable. It won’t wobble no matter how uneven the surface. But if you remove one leg, the stool falls over. Look at your business in the same way. 

Companies that focus only on production may be very successful in producing a lot of product or service. But if that is their only focus, quality is sure to suffer. Likewise, if quality is the only concern, the production numbers fall short and customers are forced to go elsewhere. And, if quality and production are the only points of emphasis, safety programs are ineffective. Workplace injuries are extremely expensive, both in human and monetary terms. Profits go down when employees suffer injuries, equipment is damaged and all the associated costs rise.

Take a few moments to assess how your company views safety. Is it given the same priority as production and quality? Is it important to all employees, facilitated by supervisors, and supported by all managers? The alternative is an unpredictable injury cycle that no business can afford. 

To learn more about fostering your safety culture check out the resources at