One of the best questions any Leader can ask of the people doing the work of their companies is “What are you doing today to create safety?” This is an important question to be answered because if it can’t be answered then safety isn’t being created. Safety creation activities are the key to achieving safety excellence. Safety is like any human endeavor, we have to make it happen (or we’re just counting on luck). Here are examples of the two possible scenarios:
Wishing & Hoping Safety
The first of the two scenarios is what I call “Wishing and Hoping Safety.” Folks who manage this way subscribe to the idea that since nothing bad has happened, we must be doing things well. These companies measure their safety success by counting injuries (or lack thereof). When there are no injuries, they assume proudly that they created that situation where no injuries occurred. Trouble is little or no effort has gone into creating the safe situation so it could be, at best, a guess that safety happened. It’s also highly likely that unsafe things happened today but they were fortunate enough not to pay the price with a resulting injury. An additional dynamic with this type of Wishing & Hoping Safety is there is a high likelihood that when an injury does happen there is blame flailed around in all directions (except back at the blamer). Insults pointed at the injured human like (Stupid, No-Common Sense, Idiot) are all too likely.
For more on the silliness bordering on insane use of “Common Sense” and the wise use of Common Knowledge” see:
Time to Replace Common Sense with Gained Common Knowledge
Developing a Common Knowledge
Integrated Safety Management System
The second of the two scenarios, which is much wiser and more stable is taking an Integrated Safety Management System approach. This requires intent, actions and evidence to build safe places to work Best of all it measures the existence of those actions to develop confidence that there is a causal relationship between the actions and the outcomes. Sounds to me like we’re actually starting to manage! Over time, a state of safety excellence is created and exists consistently and predictably. The company works long periods of time with few downgrading incidents. When they do happen, a calm and measured response is likely. There is empathy for the people injured and a true commitment to uncover what may be something missed in creating safety excellence. The pride comes not from pretending perfection but from an overwhelming commitment to learning from mistakes and continual improvement. Reports of actions taken is the highlight of the statistical analysis since there are very few injuries to count. When a day is finished there are statistical measures on what was done to create safety and therefore likely an incident free day. So there you have it, TWO states for your company to be in… Wishing & Hoping or creating safety excellence through thoughtful and diligent use of an Integrated Safety Management System. One you need to change as soon as possible the other one you should be extremely proud of!
So tomorrow morning, ask 10 people who work at your company the question “What Are YOU Doing Today To Make Safety Happen? If you like the answers you hear, congratulations. If you hear a lot of pausing and “aww, well, you see…ummm, aww” you know what you need to do. Start asking for the creation of safety activities to be reported. For more information on creating safety excellence visit Safety Results Ltd.