When can good safety practices go bad? When they become routine and quit adding value to the daily safety of workers. In short, when they are completed just to check off the box that says they are completed. This seldom happens intentionally.
Most safety programs and activities have very specific goals to increase safety awareness or engagement, provide pre-job planning, or just to keep safety on everyone’s’ mind. But when programs stress the quantity without the quality and do not focus on capturing or delivering value, they can become meaningless activities.
Safety moments in meetings, JSAs, audits, observations, refresher training, safety toolbox meetings, all of these can add value or become valueless activities based on how they are carried out. As soon as any safety activity is speedily “checked off” just to get it done, the opportunity to continue doing it this way appears. It is incumbent on everyone to question the value of safety efforts and not let them become meaningless.
This means leaders must listen to workers regularly and keep in touch with the reality of shop-floor safety. If doing it poorly ever becomes acceptable, the die is cast. In this, as in most safety efforts, prevention is preferable to reaction.
-Terry L. Mathis
For more insights, visit www.ProActSafety.com
Terry L. Mathis is the founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, an international safety and performance excellence firm. He is known for his dynamic presentations in the fields of behavioral and cultural safety, leadership, and operational performance, and is a regular speaker at ASSE, NSC, and numerous company and industry conferences. EHS Today listed Terry as a Safety Guru in ‘The 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS in 2010, 2011 and 2012-2013. He has been a frequent contributor to industry magazines for over 15 years and is the coauthor of STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence, 2013, WILEY.