As the Winter Olympics progressed over the past 16 days, each of us was captured by the excitement, the energy, the successes and the failures of athletes from around the world. Each worked months and years to train and prepare for his/her specific event. Only a few will come home with a gold medal, some will take silver and some will come home with bronze. Some will place but not earn a medal, some will be eliminated, some will drop out, some will be injured and some will return home to start training for the next Winter Olympics. Some will succeed, some will not.
In comparison, if you evaluate your safety program and efforts, how will you fare when compared to others? Would your safety program earn the gold medal? Could you take a silver or a bronze? Or would your program not measure up to others and be disqualified?
The following will provide you with some items to consider as you contemplate or review your own safety program in efforts to achieve the gold!
- Does your safety program sit on a shelf or is it exercised on a daily basis. I liken this to the daily training regimen that each athlete completes to prepare for their event.
- How does your management communicate their safety expectations to each employee? Is it reinforced daily as a coach reinforces an athlete? What rewards are tied into your program? Enough to reach the gold? What medals can you achieve?
- Is management coaching all employees? A good coach can identify faults and recommend corrective measures.
- Are safe behaviors required of all? Athletes must maintain discipline, as should your employees.
- Is your program all encompassing? Does it contemplate safety in all aspects of your business operations?
- Have each of your jobs been evaluated to ensure that the best, ultimate safety goals are set and achieved? Would an Olympian participate in a ski competition without their helmet, goggles and gloves on a poorly maintained course?
As you decide how you want to approach going for the gold in your safety program, some key elements that will help you achieve a strong finish include:
Management Commitment – Having a written safety statement, establishing safety goals and objectives, discussing safety and health issues in management meetings, creating a safety budget, determining responsibilities and accountabilities, and walking the talk.
Employee Participation – Employees should participate in the development of the safety program. It’s a team effort! Conduct audits and reviews of the program to see what is and isn’t working. Determine what training and education is needed to reach your goals.
Implementation – Determine what tools are needed to implement and execute a solid safety and health program. Make sure expertise is there. Access professional advice – have the right coaches.
Building a Safety Culture – Hold everybody accountable. Create and implement disciplinary policies and procedures. Have a continual focus on your safety culture. How do you create or change safety behaviors? Learn from your mistakes. Be proud of and reward positive changes in safety behavior. Be open to change and realize that as your business evolves, your safety program may need to evolve as well.
Olympians spend years training in their event. They practice, they re-evaluate their routine, they try new techniques and they make changes to strengthen and improve themselves. They learn from their peers as well as their coaches. Not all can earn a gold medal but so many continue to compete and try. In regards to safety put your best efforts up front. Create that safety culture and reinforce it regularly. Educate your employees in safety. The rewards are never ending.
Wouldn’t you want to be up there on that podium receiving the gold medal with only the best of the best?