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Tamara Parris's picture

Corporate culture and organizational behavior on safety performance

Our industry expert members, @juditherickson, @jimloud and @daverebbitt shared their knowledge on the effects of corporate culture and organizational behavior on safety performance over a month ago. During the discussion members who attended to submit their questions.

One member asked;

Do organizations define safety professionals as "safety cops" rather than safety leaders?

It would be great to hear your thoughts and experience.

Members, please take a moment to share your comments below.

July 10, 2018 @ 02:59 PM EDT Health & Safety

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1 Answers

Answers

Just as you can’t inspect in quality, you can’t enforce in safety. One of several reasons is that no company would ever hire the vast numbers of personnel necessary to achieve total compliance. Even if a company was willing to provide the necessary enforcement resources the best they could hope to achieve is compliance (just doing enough to get by). This is a very low bar and a roadblock to continuous improvement and safety excellence. Everyone wants compliance but it makes for an uninspiring goal. I’ve found that the most compliant organizations get there as a byproduct out their overall safety effort, not via heavy handed enforcement actions. Enforcement is fundamentally fear based and will never get you the kind of worker engagement needed for genuine and sustainable progress. It is, in fact, an impediment. Deming’s told us this truth nearly 40 years ago but we appear to be slow learners. There is no corresponding role in modern organizations for quality cops, productivity cops, sales cops, etc. We should ask ourselves what makes safety so different. Safety is a staff position - not a line position. As a staff person you have little authority and/or influence over the work or the workers. No matter how much the workers like you personally you don’t hire them, fire them, give them raises or promotions, or assign them tasks. These are all line responsibilities, as is product quality, production, cost control - and most definitely, safety. We shouldn’t act as enablers for line management to abdicate their responsibilities, including enforcement when necessary. It takes the committed actions of the entire organization to achieve safety excellence. We in safety should not try to do all things safety for our employers but rather help everyone at all levels of the organization engage in ongoing safety improvement. If you’re not improving you’re most likely going backwards. We can take a leading role in this effort but we can’t do it for them, and shouldn’t try.

July 17, 2018 @ 08:05
Jim Loud's picture

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