Safety plays a unique and special role in organizational life. Striking a balance between production output and proper safety precautions will always be a challenge for organizations, especially when the job requires working in potentially hazardous situations. That said, protecting the health and well-being of each team member is of the utmost importance.
Keeping people safe while maintaining production quotas requires the ability to lead and manage day-to-day production. Most organizations have measures in place for managing and reporting safety practices, but a strong safety culture means going beyond the traditional methods of managing safety.
For example, many organizations track the number of days each work area has gone without an accident. While these methods and numbers are an important part of management, they aren’t enough to build a strong safety culture. Leaders must be able to inspire others to help maintain a safe workplace. This calls for exceptional leadership and well-developed people skills.
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A Leader’s Role in Safety
Leaders must provide encouragement and reinforcement for employees who do their work safely. They must also correct performance problems and motivate people to change unsafe work habits. Creating this type of healthy work climate requires leaders to foster positive relationships with their employees.
Today’s organizations cannot depend solely on management and safety personnel to communicate about safety. Everyone in the organization must be empowered to coach others on safety issues.
Safety coaching focuses on how to learn from close calls and safety issues. Leaders foster a safety culture by encouraging all team members to coach others, speak up about unsafe practices, and take action to prevent accidents. Everyone in the organization must feel responsible and be accountable for maintaining strong safety practices consistently.
Safety conversations should happen whenever the organization begins something new, whether it’s adding a new member to the team or changing direction as an organization. People should coach others on safety regularly (daily, if possible), both as a method for recognizing positive behaviors and to correct undesirable ones. Safety should also be discussed in formal performance appraisals, goal-setting discussions, and developmental conversations.
It’s important to have open and productive safety conversations, regardless of whether they focus on a preventative measure, an ongoing safety concern, or an investigation into an accident. To maintain employee morale, people need to know that any time a safety issue is discussed, it will be handled fairly and in a logical and supportive manner.
With the right management methods and leadership skills in place, you can build a strong culture of safety in your organization. Your team members can help you achieve new safety targets, safeguard their coworkers, and ensure that company equipment stays in good working order.
CMOE has worked with leaders in many organizations to instill a safety culture and reach new levels of safety performance. Contact us to learn how we can help you master the management and leadership skills necessary to help drive out mediocrity, reach new safety targets, learn safety-coaching skills, and build a safe and healthy workplace culture.