4 Ways To Make Safety Positive

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 27, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Stop discussing the negatives of not being safe. Instead, focus on the positives of buying-in to safety.

Ask employees about how they perceive the safety program and they will most likely answer that it's dull, boring, repetitive, mind-numbing, disengaging, and it tries to scare you into compliance. That's because safety has been focused on following rules and avoiding injury or accidents. But like everything else in life, safety evolves.

Sure, there is still an expectation of meeting the minimum standards of safety. But, that's the least that the law will allow you to do. If the focus is to achieve the minimum standard, you are chasing compliance - the standard that you are not allowed to fall below. And when safety programs are focused only on achieving the minimum, that's where the organization will live.

As organizations are becoming more people-centric, they are integrating people-development programs. You cannot develop your people without including safety. The best-managed companies and employers-of-choice still value a profit but not at the expense of their good people. They are organizations that attract the best employees and hang onto them. As I say regularly, the best place to work is always the safest place to work.

The best employees are attracted to workplaces that focus on achieving positives, more than just avoiding negatives. The best workplaces have a plan to make the experience of working there a positive one. 

Here are the four most important ways to focus your safety program on positives:

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4 Things You Must Talk About In Safety Meetings

Posted by Kevin Burns on Aug 30, 2017 9:30:00 AM

When people engage in these four things at your safety meeting, they will buy-in to safety.

Safety meetings started out as a legal requirement. You had to have them, they had to be recorded and the subject matter had to satisfy the Code. But nowhere does it state that you can’t add items to the safety meeting or that you can’t have fun and to speak-up in the meetings.

Companies buy templates for their safety meetings that are white-bread and innocuous because they’ve been dumbed-down to appeal to as many industries as possible. But generic safety meetings that talk about safety reports, inspections, incident reports, processes, procedures and protocols while numbing the mind with text-laden PowerPoint slides don’t build safety buy-in.

Employees don’t buy-in to the safety program because it is presented as a set of rules and policies. Employees resist anyone who appears to want to force them to comply. And it's tough for employees to warm up to someone who incessantly talks about procedures, processes, inspections and incidents. (Sure, it's important but not engaging in a conversational way). When your safety meetings are a re-hash of everything they've already heard on PPE, driving, lockouts and slips-trips-falls, you're going to lose their attention - and desire to want to warm up to safety.

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6 Ways To Become A Respected Safety Leader

Posted by Kevin Burns on Aug 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

As a safety leader, more doors open, more options are available and the longer you are likely to live.

My Blog post, Safety Cop Or Safety Leader got a lot of traffic and created much discussion. Some safety people found themselves inadvertently standing on the wrong side of the conversation. But, as Dr. Phil says, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

To become a safety leader, you have to first understand what safety leadership is not: it is not safety management. Since there is no requirement to be in management to be a leader, then it only makes sense that you don’t have to be in safety management to be a safety leader.

Safety leadership is not just for those with a title. Safety leaders can be found on the front-lines too. They are willing to coach and inspire better safety performance through mosty, their example. You see, being a leader starts with being willing to go first. The first person to do something is the leader. Everyone else follows. But to go from safety person to safety leader, requires a mindset shift. 

So with that in mind, let's explore six mindset shifts that can cause you to become a better safety leader:

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3 Effective Strategies to Fix Boring Safety Meetings (Yes They Are)

Posted by Kevin Burns on Aug 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Safety meetings are not supposed to be boring. People, more specifically presenters, make them that way.

Talks from the TED conferences are engaging. If you are not familiar with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), they are a global set of conferences that bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less.

Eighteen minutes or less.

Some of the world’s greatest thinkers will change the world with their ideas in under 18 minutes. So the question becomes, if world-class thinkers and thought leaders are only given eighteen minutes to make their point, have the learning stick and ultimately change the world, why are mediocre safety presenters given 60-90 minutes to make a point or two about safety? If issues like fighting world hunger and jumpstarting world economies can be addressed in 18 minutes, why are safety meetings running longer than that?

Safety complacency is a big problem today but never moreso than safety meeting complacency: the lack of focused engagement in preparing engaging safety meetings. The problems outlined below identify the real reasons safety meetings are traditionally so boring and what to do next.

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"Be Safe" Is A Terrible Safety Message

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jul 5, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Safety people and supervisors get concerned when their employees won't buy-in to safety. They also complain about employees' lack of engagement and a lack of accountability in the safety program. But what if the safety messaging is aimed below the intellect of the same people you're trying to reach? What if you've dumbed it down too far? What if you've underestimated your own people?

Communications that miss the target can undermine your efforts in safety. Generic slogans and feeble safety campaigns downloaded from the Internet do not resonate with most people (Hint: there's a reason they're free for the taking on the Internet). And people do not connect with anything that doesn't resonate with them. A slogan for a slogan’s sake can do more harm than good.

Generic safety messages are like an ill-fitting suit. Buy a suit off the rack and it looks like a cheap attempt to dress-up. But go to a tailor and have one built specifically for youy and you are willing to wear it proudly. The same too with a safety message. It has to fit perfectly, or your people won't wear it.

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Two Key Strategies To Become Indispensable In Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jul 20, 2015 5:40:00 PM

As a safety person, are you distinguishing yourself from others and making yourself indispensable?

Safety people in several sectors are having a tough time finding new work. The pickings are tough. Safety jobs in oil and gas, for example, have dried up while the world price stays low. That’s had a domino-effect in other industries too. It’s a tough time to look for work.

Why should we hire you? It’s the question asked when you are interviewed. Potential employers will ask the same question when surfing through your LinkedIn profile.

Employers looking for safety people search for something that distinguishes that person from others and makes them indispensable. Unfortunately, safety people have a lot of boring profiles on LinkedIn.

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9 Reasons You Can't Be A Leader Without A Commitment To Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Sep 8, 2014 3:05:00 PM

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.

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3 Reasons The World Needs More Canada In Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jun 30, 2014 5:53:00 PM

When you remove worry and uncertainty from your work site, people are more likely to make decisions that are in alignment with their own health and safety.

This week is the annual birthday celebrations of both Canada and the USA: Canada on July 1 and the USA on July 4. Both days are celebrated as national holidays in their respective countries - however Canada has a much lower concentration of backyard fireworks displays (probably because "the rocket's red glare" isn't in the Canadian anthem).

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4 Things You Should Be Talking About In Safety Meetings

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jun 23, 2014 12:32:00 PM

When people engage in these four things at your safety meeting, they will buy-in to safety.

Safety meetings started out as a legal requirement. You had to have them, they had to be recorded and the subject matter had to satisfy the Code. But nowhere does it state that you can’t add items to the safety meeting or that you can’t have fun and to speak-up in the meetings.

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3 Strategies For Safety Leadership Now

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jun 17, 2014 2:48:00 PM

Safety leadership is just like regular leadership - only these ones buy-in to safety as a personal value.

There is a difference between simple safety compliance and becoming an active safety leader. As I’ve mentioned in the past, leadership in safety has nothing to do with management. You don’t have to be in management to be a safety leader, mentor or influencer. All that is required is a commitment to wanting to embrace safety as a personal value and to be willing to not allow the shortcuts, risky behaviors or condemnation of safety of others to influence your choices.

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