SAFETY IS A STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL IMPERATIVE. Traditionally, organizations separated safety from operations and approached it strictly as a standalone issue. However, the concept of safe operations is about changing the way that people approach their jobs to improve the level of safety and productivity within an organization. While most companies do care about the safety of their workers, the question of how to successfully change a company’s culture to ensure safe practices remains. Executives know they need to embed safety into the DNA of their organizations; it must be a choice made by every employee. When this happens, safety evolves into ‘safe operations’ and becomes an essential part of the organization.For many years, companies have addressed safety by establishing robust procedures, institutionalizing safety policies and implementing comprehensive training programs. Thankfully, accidents, near hits and fatalities have decreased as a result. However, addressing unsafe behavior remains elusive for many companies and the impact is felt far beyond the gates of operations. The social consequences of poor safety are widely known, making it imperative that companies have the means to create a high-performing operation where safety is the cornerstone.
Move from minimizing accidents to maximizing operating
The main issue here is managements’ constant struggle to change a company’s culture and the behaviors of workers at the point of execution. They know that behaviors must shift to achieve measurable and sustainable results, but the leap from a safety attitude to safe working behaviors is not easy.
Viewing safety in isolation and addressing it via a traditional approach (training, safety campaigns, safety audits and disciplinary actions), you can only uphold the status quo.
A better way does exist...
Based on our experiences working with companies around the globe, safety programs become exactly that—programs—and do not address the types of behavioral changes necessary to sustain a pro-safety culture. A sustainable solution bridges beyond being focused on minimizing accidents to stressing behaviors that maximize the overall health and safety of employees while they are on the job.
When you change the work environment in a way that promotes reliable and predictable operations, safety becomes a natural part of the process.
8 essential elements to make Safe Operations change happen
Together, the following eight elements minimize the opportunity for error, improve the health and safety of people and help create a culture of safe operations where everyone is accountable for their actions.
- Make safe operations the responsibility of everyone
- Align management team/organization with safe operations
- Align people and processes
- Engage employees: Capture their hearts and minds
- Develop supervisor and management behaviors
- Improve employee behaviors
- Balance performance measurements
- Achieve total stakeholder engagement
Proudfoot agrees that safety is far beyond words on a page (PowerPoint presentations, policies and procedures, etc.). Truly operationalizing and internalizing safe operations are key attributes of an advanced organization.
What steps are you taking towards truly sustainable safe operations?
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