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Does Everyone in Your Company Speak the Same Safety Language?

August 26, 2015

people-talkingDoes everyone in your company speak the same language?

I don’t mean do they all speak English, I am talking about safety language. Let me throw some lingo at you from a recent article I read about organizational change. Get ready, it’s a long list: executive management commitment, rules and commitment, safety opportunities, safety culture, accident investigation, action based safety teams, safety recognition hierarchy, management accountability, safety metrics, near miss reporting, housekeeping, lost time, safety metrics, goal setting, predictive, reactive, etc. These are only 1/3rd of the phrases, concepts and ideas in this article, but I think you get the point. We have a lot of options, and a lot of obstacles when it comes to a safety management system that will work for each company.

They will all work to a degree with “some to most” individuals. The key is to get everyone on the same page. Some companies use the Safety Manager for that, others use front line supervision, and others use a team/group approach. Again, all of these will work to some degree for “some to most” individuals. They likely even have some statistics to prove it. My question is, are you satisfied with “some to most”?

The reality is that it’s not the “some to most” that we are worried about. If you subscribe to the Pareto Principle that 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the people, then you are setting yourself up for a letdown. This letdown usually happens a few years after your latest implementation, thus prompting you to try and find the next best thing. Sound familiar?

It is very difficult to actually change our individual traits. They are hardwired within us. The fact is that most people are not aware of the specific traits that predispose them to injury. This makes it more difficult for them to see the merit in some aspects of your new safety management system. You can change the system, but you will just lose a different group of people. Until they are all speaking the same language, you will continue to fail to get them all on board.

What if you could measure each individual’s unique personal traits and abilities that predispose them to risk? What about the individual characteristics that are proven to increase or decrease the likelihood of injury? What if each individual on your team was aware of their internal tendencies? Honestly, just because YOU notice something about someone, certainly does not mean THEY know it. What if they were truly on the same page, speaking the same language going into the next project, system change, and initiative? Seeing their own SafetyDNATM Report and understanding their personal safety habits and tendencies would be a great first step in understanding and implementing a system designed to protect them.

I am a full-time compliance trainer. I only take care of one piece of the puzzle. I only account for a couple of the words mentioned above. When a client asks me about systems I have seen, and which are better than others, I tell them to strip away all the fancy words and get to the heart of the program. They all want involvement from the top down. They all want to be measurable and sustainable. They all want to be engaging. You can pick most anyone you want. But until you get the people that will be expected to follow the program speaking the same language, you will be destined to find out who the people are that fall outside of the “some to most” category.

Our Guest Blogger this week is Terry Weston, CSP, CMSP who is a workplace safety consultant for South Central College.  He has developed and delivered countless training sessions in the areas of OSHA and MSHA.  He also presents at national conferences across the nation in the areas of training materials, delivery, and retention.

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Guest Blogger