Safety And Leadership
In the past, safety management has been driven from the top, with a tendency for it to become stuck at the front-line management level. This means that those workers most likely to engage in unsafe behaviour or to be injured have traditionally been unconnected from the safety improvement process.
Safety leadership overcomes this by working with those most likely to be hurt. The leaders become actively engaged in working to eliminate the incidences of unsafe behaviours. Without a widespread workforce involvement, any commitment to safety management will be ineffective.
Anyone in an organisation can make the choice to be a safety leader. In reality, for an organisation to have a strong safety culture and performance, there must be safety leaders at every job site, every department, and in every work team.
Encourage people to take personal responsibility for safety by setting expectations for each layer (senior, middle, front-line management, and employees) and link these to the organisation’s goals. Safety leadership should become a corporate value: emphasise this with safety leadership training.
Each safety leader’s effect on company culture is critical for the prevention or minimisation of a disaster. Remember, anyone can be a safety leader. Safety leaders do not rule by authority; instead, their conduct influences co-workers to improve their own standards.
It’s important to create a sustainable safety culture that gives any workforce the right skill sets, mindsets and tools, rather than by paying lip service by setting more rules or paper trails in place.
Develop safety leadership and to encourage all levels of the management team to show their commitment to a safe workplace through their actions as well as their words.
Becoming a safety leader is not always an easy choice, particularly when workplace safety has not previously been a priority for the organisation. Incidents and near-misses are unlikely to be reported when there are negative connotations for those involved.
Ensure that the organisation does not foster a ‘blame the victim’ culture. If the workforce trusts the system, individuals will be more likely to report accidents, safety hazards, violations, and incidents. In fact, there is likely to be an increased rate of reporting of defects, unsafe conditions and unsafe practices as the improved systems become embedded in the organisational culture.
“Doug shows us that we can all make a difference.”
– Mike Keating
Assistant Comissioner, Road Policing Command, Queensland Police Service