Safety is a commitment to your people that their contribution matters and is worth protecting.
Safety managers complain that they have difficulty in getting safety buy-in from senior management. Senior management seems more prepared to roll the dice on safety by under-funding the safety program. Executives understand profit and loss. But maybe they’ve never had safety explained in a way they understand. Maybe the pitch has been all wrong.
Here, for argument’s sake, are 9 reasons why you can’t be a respected leader without a commitment to safety:
1You can't put people's lives at risk and still be a leader. No one in their right minds would follow the person who would cause them harm. Would you, as a senior manager, hire your own child in a front-line job with your current safety program? Without safety as a personal guiding principle, people won’t feel safe and secure. People will act safe only when they feel safe.
2You can't be the example of what you want employees to be. Standards are set from the top - from leadership. To be the example that you want people to emulate, leaders must set the standard. And don’t be afraid to set a high standard. People will rise to it if asked.
3You can't please shareholders/stakeholders. Safety incidents cost more. Costs include lost productivity, worker replacement and training and higher insurance premiums. Then, there's the hit to the corporate reputation (especially if there is a fatality). Safety must become a guiding principle of the organization. Incidents cost money and time. That eats away at the bottom line.
4You can't get optimum revenues. Companies can't afford to risk their reputations by aligning themselves with risky safety performers. Contractors and vendors with impeccable safety records will find it easy to secure new business. Poor performers will struggle with revenues. Customers are looking to do business with organizations committed to higher standards of safety.
5You can't get maximum productivity. Productivity plummets when forced to stop for incident investigations. The better the buy-in to the safety program, the better productivity will flow. Leaders must commit to improve their organizations. Solid safety improvements help every company.
6You can't attract the best young workers. To attract young workers, safety must be part of the Corporate Social Responsibility statement. Young workers study a company's corporate CSR before they will ever apply to work there. In fact, young workers don’t just want a job, they want a culture fit. So, corporate values must be on display. A company that has a record of caring for and keeping their people safe will attract higher-quality, young workers.
7You can't attract the best experienced workers. When yours becomes the best and safest place to work, you will attract the best and safest talent and become an employer of choice. Experienced workers still look for opportunities to contribute in a better way. When companies that can show their commitment to keeping people safe, they will become an employer of choice. Those companies will be able to pick and choose their employees. The best employees end up gravitating to the best companies. Yours will never be the best company without a stellar safety commitment.
8You can't provide a culture where workers make good decisions. Employees motivated by fear make irrational decisions. Safety is not the absence of injury. Safety is security: physical, emotional, mental and financial. People who feel confident and secure make better decisions. People will act safe when they feel safe. A commitment to safety removes fear and doubt. That allows employees to give their best.
9You can't say you care about your people. You cannot be a leader if you have contempt for or don't care about the people whom you work with. People will care about their work when they know that you care about them. If you are going to lead, you have to like people. When you like them, you will want to take care of them. That requires not only a corporate commitment to safety, but owning safety as a personal value.
There is not a single job or position in the world that does not serve someone else. Every company or organization serves someone else. Nothing happens without people. Safety is not a program of stats, figures and pie charts. Safety is a commitment to your people that their contribution matters and is worth protecting. Safety is people-work, not paperwork.
Front front-line safety managers and supervisors, test your own commitment to safety. Take the self-quiz, 10 Crucial Questions For Safety Managers. It's a free e-book download. Click below.