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A Safety “Pro” Carol: A Story of Safety Culture

Posted by
Shannon Diamond
on Dec 22, 2015

In light of the season, we bring you a story to keep in mind about your safety culture’s effect on the future of your company, starring you!

We realize that it is easy to become so focused on the bottom line that the importance of safety can be overlooked. However, having your workers make it home unharmed every day is the one of the best ways to ensure your company’s future success. Not only is safety key to protecting your workers, it can also have a direct impact on your company’s financial well-being.

CEOs_of_made_up_company.jpgImagine you are the CEO of a small to mid-size company. Your safety manager is often telling you of near misses, accidents, and minor injuries in the work place and is constantly asking for more trainings and better PPE. On the other hand, your board of directors and CFO are pressuring you to reduce spending and increase profit. You don’t want your employees to be hurt, but you figure that no one has been seriously injured so far, so there is no real reason to spend more money on safety. After all, your employees know how to be safe, don’t they? Surely the costs of better training, PPE, and safeguards can’t possibly be worth it. What kind of return on investment would you receive?

One day you receive a notice that OSHA is coming to inspect your company. You make a walk-through of the property and make a few minor corrections; nothing seems to be an obvious safety risk. The inspector arrives and walks through the site making notes on a clipboard. Along the way, he stops to talk with some of your employees, learning that some of their PPE is outdated and they have not received any formal safety training in over a year. Suddenly you are faced with thousands of dollars in fines, as well as OSHA violations on your company’s record. Before you can even begin to correct the problems, an employee is killed in a caught-between accident on site. This employee, Mr. Smith, comes to you that night as a ghost to tell you that you are to be met by “The Three Ghosts of Safety”. If you fail to heed their words, there will be severe consequences for your actions, or lack thereof.

The Past

First you encounter “The Ghost of Safety Past.” He is worn, ragged, and covered with scars. It is apparent he has been doing this for a long time. He takes you to past jobs where you see some of the near misses and reckless behavior about which your safety manager has been telling you. This Ghost of Safety Past represents every accident, near-miss, and citation you’ve received over the years. He is all of your EMRs and TRIRs rolled into one, and will haunt you every time you fill out the end of the year OSHA 300 logs. With his guidance, you are also able to see several large projects your company lost as the hiring client shook his head reviewing your safety stats. You begin to realize maybe safety is worth the investment.

The Present

Just as you start to regain your senses, you get knocked over the head with the arrival of the “Ghost of Safety Present.” He brings you to a worksite, one on which your company is currently working on. You see your employees talking during their lunch break. They are showing each other scars and bruises from “minor” accidents you never knew happened. They joke about their outdated and worn PPE, the lack of training, and how safety is clearly the last thing on their CEO’s mind. It is clear they have lost faith in management as they mock your insincere “safety talks” and concern with the bottom line. They know it is only a matter of time before another person is seriously hurt or killed.

The Future

As you begin to question your company’s policies, one final ghost emerges, “The Ghost of Safety Future.” This ghost brings you to an abandoned building Ghost_of_safety_past_present_and_future.jpgwith signs announcing the condemning scheduled next week. As you see listings of multiple OSHA violations and make shift memorials of employees killed on the job you realize this is your company’s office. Your company became bankrupt and you lost your livelihood, as well as self-worth. You begin to question the ghost. Is there some way to avoid this dismal future? Suddenly the ghost of Mr. Smith is standing next to you. He tells you that no future is certain. You can change the present, thus changing the future.

Overcome by the awareness of the impact of your actions, do you feel yourself beginning to change? Do you realize that proper safety policies and training can lead to a better future? Do you learn that every dollar spent on safety is returned many times over?

Change your Future

Safe employees are happier, and more productive, employees. Less accidents, incidents, and violations means better EMRs and TRIRS, which in turn mean lower insurance rates and better job opportunities. You know that NOW is the time to work on improving your safety culture. But where do you start? How can you ensure you make the right changes to prevent your past actions from leading to your company’s ruin? You start by simply grabbing a RAFTER:

  1. Review: Take a look at your current procedures.
  2. Assess: Dive deeper and explore which procedures may or may not be working.
  3. Formulate: Formulate a plan of action to create a safer environment.
  4. Train: Train yourself and your employees to recognize and report unsafe behaviors. Also train everyone in correct and safe work practices. Be sure your training includes empowering your employees to use Stop Work authority.
  5. Execute: Execute the rest of your plan of action.
  6. Repeat: Continue to review your plans against your practices, and follow the same process every 6-12 months.

Keeping your employees healthy and safe should be a top priority, and training is an excellent way to start. For more information on revising your companies’ safety policies, download our free safety manager’s guide to safety training. From all of us at SafetyPro Resources, we wish you, your family, and your company Happy Holidays and a wonderful and safe New Year!

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Tags: Safety training, safety culture

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