Weekly safety meetings tend to exude redundancies. The obligatory head nods, agreeing to work harder and spreading the word. Then after the doughnuts are eaten and the coffee has grown cold, tendencies tend to draw towards getting back to your station, and making the projected numbers. Then when an issue does arise, a quick coaching, counselling and back to it. You created a plan, but, can it be perfect? The fact of the matter is that the team’s effectiveness will reflect the attitude and the behaviours exemplified by the leadership that creates and helps execute the plan.

We are human beings that are all subject to the same faults that each day brings us. Our performances will have bad days, what we do need to strive for, where we can be excellent, is in our preparation. To be proactive where we can, and reactive when we have to. We are going to cultivate a ‘Safety First Corporate Culture’.

This culture starts with the decision makers in the company agreeing that a healthy safe environment for everyone is key, and foremost in our efforts. Ensuring that all groups from hiring and monitoring and distribution understand our goals, and are working towards achieving them. We will set goals, and create a timeline by which to follow up. To remind everybody of how important those goals are, they need to be celebrated as they are achieved.

I think we can all agree that the production floor is where the biggest impact can be made. This is where the majority of our associates are, this is where ‘things’ happen. If you get buy-in here, you impact the most people, immediately. A safe environment is most impactful to peak performance and overall growth. Not just a head nod agreement, our people have to be invested in this being a key piece of the work environment.

Health and safety culture

 

Often when safety and health is discussed, everyone puts their best foot forward, for a short period of time. This attitude needs to be ongoing. Those that are performing safely, and encouraging others to perform in the same manner need to be recognised and rewarded. This environment can save the company money in the long term, and this savings should be shared with the team during the annual review period, during meetings and in the form of bonuses. The biggest takeaway we want from this aspect is to make safety a habit that is second nature to everyone.

What we also need, is to reinforce our expectations to the employees, by encompassing what we do in our facilities, by putting a focus on product safety for our customers. Not just a safe environment to work in, but passing along the concept in our products. We need to also include this attitude and expectancy from our suppliers. We need an expectancy of environmental health and safety trustworthy controls in place with our vendors.

Our associates, from the floor on up need to understand the importance we in management put in health and safety. We must have informal and formal rules, conducive to safe and healthy work practices. We must have a strategic plan that shows a strong pro safety value system. Each member from the first day of orientation, to the CEO must understand and articulate those values. The repetitive indoctrination of these values will develop the culture of the workers. It will create the attitude of doing the right thing at all times, even when no one is looking.

 

How to create a positive safety culture

As a management team, from leads, floor supervisors, upper management, human resources, and even the board members we must establish the safety first corporate culture. To do that, everyone must;

  • Understand this culture. Not just nod our heads in agreement. Ask questions, partner with each other to clarify issues.
  • Assess the current system and the culture that exists today. Maintain the positives, and plan accordingly how to create the new safety first corporate culture.
  • Expect at all times from each individual, the behaviours and attitudes that encourages the desired culture.
  • Model and adapt the positive behaviours to all associates. This establishes the expectations we send forward.
  • We have to mentor the associates to encourage this new atmosphere. Establish the guidelines, ask open ended questions to encourage dialogue. Partnerships within groups to reinforce our desire for success.
  • We must put in writing, a training guide so that the same set of expectations consistently become established.
  • Finally we must monitor and reinforce these behaviours. The associates must recognise that every team member will be trained, and followed up with to evaluate and assess a game plan to move behaviours forward in a positive direction on an annual basis.

This isn’t going to change overnight. There will be tough days. Perfection in safety is close to impossible. We have things that we can influence, and things we can control. There will always be items out of our control. Conversely, there is much more we can influence. To be effective we must exercise all efforts to influence and control everything we can positively. We may not always be perfect in performance, but we can be perfect in preparation.