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What can we learn from the safest organizations about safety?

The number one goal of organizations today should be safety, and this is espoused as a major value by the world’s safest corporations. Productivity, insurance, job competition, and social standing are all affected by safety performance.

In this article, we look at what the world’s safest firms do to meet their goals for workplace environmental health and safety (EHS) and to foster a culture of safety first.

Safety starts at the top

The world’s safest firms have a safety culture that begins at the top and spreads throughout the organization.

The following are the key features of organizations that prioritize safety:

  • Receive leadership and management support for their environmental, health, and safety efforts.

  • The EHS process involves employees at all levels.

  • Innovative solutions to safety concerns (in terms of design, method, and practice) are implemented.

  • The rate of injury and illness is lower than the industry average.

  • Conduct in-depth training programs (eLearning, interaction, and engagement based on adult learning concepts).

  • Maintain evidence that incident prevention is at the heart of the safety process; and

  • Provide adequate and quality communication about the importance of safety, as well as a means to substantiate the benefits of the safety process.

Employee involvement and safety leadership are on display in these companies. Safety is not a compartmentalized effort; rather, it is used to gain a competitive edge.

Characteristics of a leader

Leadership is crucial in achieving the best safety performance and in creating a culture that promotes safety improvement in order to consistently sustain the safest behaviors. In the world’s safest corporations,

  1. Personal safety is a value. This is true even when it is necessary to deviate from the company’s position. Great safety leaders are open about their dedication to safety and set a good example.

  2. Everything they do demonstrates the safety message. Safety is not an afterthought or a separate procedure; it is the top priority and informs all decisions.

  3. On the shop floor, safety leaders are in charge. On a regular basis, safety managers, counselors, and supervisors are present in the field. They assist safety systems and processes by adhering to safety requirements and modeling desired behaviors in order to set a good example.

  4. Safety is ingrained in the organization’s climate and culture. People are the most essential thing, and keeping them safe is the organization’s primary concern.

  5. Safety leaders want others to match their level of concentration and action. They ask for inquiries in order to increase safety.

  6. Safety leaders ensure that adequate resources are available. They offer practical and realistic measures to achieve a vision that outlines desired behaviors for employees at all levels. With each phase, they ensure that they have the necessary personnel, funding, and resources to succeed.

  7. Employees are coached and mentored by safety leaders. Ongoing training is provided to keep the safety message alive. They provide resources and guidance, as well as collaborate, to achieve their safety improvement goals while also listening to changes and obstacles to processes that affect safety performance.

  8. Feedback is solicited and appreciated. Because perception and interpretation of the message can differ, feedback is a vital tool for safety improvement.

  9. Proactively reducing exposure. The best predictor of safety performance is exposure. When the danger of exposure changes, action is taken immediately to eliminate the risk in real time.

  10. Alignment of company and contractor leadership They treat contractors the same way they treat any other employee. They do not allow contractors to take shortcuts or treat their lives as secondary to those of corporate employees.

  11. Understand where the company is going. They act on safety issues and display a sense of urgency for safety, ensuring alignment with the company’s future strategy and the activities they are involved in.

  12. Do not be afraid of innovation. They are keen to try something different and are not afraid to accept failure, and will start over if something is not working.

Characteristics of a safe culture

The culture of your organization is critical in setting the conditions and behaviors that create your results. To build a strong safety culture and be one of the safest firms in the world, leaders must ensure that the four traits listed below are present in their organization:

  • Workers are empowered and expected to pause and inquire if they have safety concerns. Everyone in the organization is accountable for taking action and actively participating in event prevention and process improvement efforts.

  • Workers are informed about the hazards of their jobs. Repetition, arrogance, and complacency can all set in. Discussions concerning negative occurrences or near-misses that occurred within or outside of the organization foster an open environment.

  • Core ideals include learning and constant progress. Errors and negative events are viewed as important insights into existing vulnerabilities and key learning opportunities in an organization with a strong safety culture. A constant feedback loop is required to incorporate lessons learnt into process improvement initiatives.

  • Working in this organization necessitates teamwork. Teamwork boosts productivity. Poor communication and safety issues result from a lack of teamwork. Leadership may mitigate these risks by emphasizing that the organization is one team that must collaborate and support one another in order to be safe and successful.

Innovative safety education

The world’s safest companies create a safe work environment and instruct their employees on how to work safely within that environment. As part of the workplace safety guidelines, they train explicitly about workplace risks and continue to monitor competency and understanding about the best way to control workplace hazards.

When managers rely on their own expertise to determine how to best control a threat, they risk overlooking something critical.

Regulations, codes of practice, and publications produced by the regulator should be used to verify that training content is informed by best practice and complies with the rules and regulations.

According to research from a variety of fields, engagement and interactivity are the keys to entrenched knowledge and influence on workplace health and safety behavior.