SAFETY CULTURE : A Guaranteed Investment
“If you don’t want someone else telling you how to run your business- then don’t give them a reason to be there.”
Building a good safety culture is an investment that ALWAYS pays off. The benefits of a healthy culture of safety are numerous, so are the companies that fail to sustain such a culture. In many ways it’s unfortunate that a business owner or board of directors are not required to understand safety regulations or pass any relevant tests before starting a business because if you look at the number of days off, injuries, and deaths that occur from failure to train or enforce safety rules in the workplace; then an easier case can be made for the rules.
Most OSHA or DOT rules were written in blood; there was a cost more than financial that incurred, but no one wants more laws. I don’t want to lose that much control over my business or my life either. What can we do, in our various industries, to alleviate the prospect of more laws?
“I was in a meeting between some local residents and officials from the BLM and the Energy sector. One old, grizzly, cantankerous, cowboy stood up to speak and shocked the audience by what he said, which was “I want all of you to know that I am an environmentalist, when I am fixing my fences, getting a cow out of a mud-hole, or repairing a road, I am also doing the work of an environmentalist. Let me explain, I clean up your diapers, your beer bottles, the trash you leave behind. I challenge you to be a better environmentalist than the outsiders that want to put more rules on you. If you don’t want someone else telling you how to run your business- then don’t give them a reason to be there.”John B.
We need to police our own workplace better than an outsider. We need to build a strong foundation of safety and compliance. The result will be a more profitable, safer and cleaner workplace and community, which is a deterrent from others scalping your clients. The argument is always made that safety costs. I absolutely agree, but in reality, safety is an investment. When you make an investment, you need to consider several angles, so let’s look at just three: logical, financial, and emotional:
- Logical – You have to ask this of your employees- why would you not want to be safe? Where is the logic in risky activities- from working at heights to texting while driving? Is the 5 minutes saved from not tying off, or performing a walkaround inspection, worth falling off a roof or blowing a tire?
- Financial – Return on Investment- How does one measure the return on investment in the realm of safety? Lowered OSHA rates? Less down time? # Of fingers at the end of the week? Does saving $130 on a new harness sound more expensive or burying an employee and paying a lawsuit. Can you compare the price of properly installed brakes to settling a lawsuit and prison time? While these may be dramatic examples, they are unfortunately prices some have paid. A good practice is to let our employees know the cost of our safety programs and communicate with the team the value of that.
- Emotional – We have a great investment socially with our employees- we go to BBQ’s, church, hunting, dance recitals, and birthdays for their children. They are our extended family, and in many cases, especially in the oil field, we spend much more time with them than we do our blood family. To see one of them hurt, hurts us. When they suffer, we feel it, or we at least have to hear about it; but that is better than to be the cause of it.
“The mistakes made in the foundation will telegraph all the way to the roof…”
I’m going to make a statement that shouldn’t be news to anyone who has ever built anything at all- wood, plastic, and metal- doesn’t matter. “The mistakes made in the foundation will telegraph all the way to the roof. If you take the time to build the foundation right, everything will go much smoother through the entire project”. Has anyone ever lived in a house that was poorly constructed? Any regrets? Have you ever found yourself repairing a previous repair? How much time and extra effort did it take to be in repair mode, not to mention stress? If this is true, then why do some people treat their businesses differently? This is a universal rule- shortcuts lead to backtracking and end up costing twice as much.
What are some steps you can take?
- POLICIES AND PROCEDURES – These define the “what” and “how” of a motor carrier’s operations. Policies establish the guidelines for how motor carriers and their employees should behave in each situation. Procedures explain how to accomplish policies. The other five practices focus on how to implement the policies and procedures.
- ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES – Must CLEARLY defines what each employee should do to successfully implement the policies and procedures. One way to make good investments in safety is to hire the right person to the role of “safety person or manager”. I’m sure many of you have seen the wrong person in this position; I worked with several of them who only held the title because they got injured in the field and the company had to find a place for them so they wouldn’t get hurt again. “The Safety Man” shouldn’t be a loudmouth, pushy, arrogant, or a braggart; employees being threatened to do the right thing will only do the right thing when observed. A good Safety Culture instills the employee to comply of their own free will, because they see the value in it.
- BE SELECTIVE IN HIRING, USE A POLICY – Having requirements for strong qualification and hiring policies when recruiting and screening applicants to fill the position will result in less headache, higher performing employees, and better morale. It is much easier to train a skill than break a habit, hire the right person.
- TRAINING AND COMMUNICATION – A CONTINUAL process that outlines the motor carrier’s communications, policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities so that everyone understands the expectations and has the adequate skills and knowledge to perform their assigned functions. Employees won’t know the proper procedure unless they are instructed.
- MONITORING AND TRACKING SYSTEMS – Monitoring and Tracking systems enable companies to be aware of their employees’ safety performance and compliance with its policies and procedures as well as how they execute their roles and responsibilities. Monitoring represents the motor carrier looking at the performance of the operation, and Tracking is assessing the collected data while looking for trends.
- FOLLOWUP – Meaningful action gives motor carriers the tools to correct or improve employee behavior, including, for example, refresher training and positive reinforcement such as rewards or bonuses, in order to improve the motor carrier’s overall safety performance
I would encourage each of you to go back to your office and first review your CSA score, then look at your organization through the lens of these 6 points. When you discover a weakness or failure – make a note of that and then get your people involved in creating a long-term solution. You are the foundation of your safety culture; it starts when you make it start.
Crown Compliance Advisors can help! We create Policies, offer Driver and Equipment tracking systems, assist with application renewal and referrals, and provide tools to simply creating a healthy safety culture, Contact us!