The Three C’s of Safety

The Three C’s of Safety

The Three C’s of Safety

The word safety does not contain the letter “C;” however, the results of a workplace safety initiative likely rest on three simple words not normally associated with safety programs: “Commitment, Communication, and Consistency.” After 20 years in the occupational safety industry, and having conducted thousands of consultation visits, I have concluded that companies where management: 1) demonstrate Commitment to employee safety; 2) have processes in place for effective Communication of the importance of workplace safety; and 3) maintain Consistency in their workplace safety processes find the greatest success in preventing accidents.

Commitment

Commitment is the single word that differentiates those who want success and those who have decided to achieve it.  Commitment is a relationship-defining term that is more often tied to marriage, family, and military service. However, commitment is also the basis of employer/employee partnerships that form the most common relationship in the business world.  When you consider the fact that people spend more time at work than they do at home, it is of the utmost importance to reinforce the commitment required to maintain a healthy working environment.  

Commitment to workplace safety is a two-way street.  Indeed, management must commit financial and temporal resources to protect employees from harm while employees must commit to following the procedures put in place by the employer, such as using the proper equipment and following the rules to keep co-workers and customers safe. Companies must remember that commitment starts and ends with ownership, as it is easy for employees to know if a company is truly committed to safety. When employees see damaged equipment go unrepaired, see supervisors blatantly ignore safety violations, and/or are asked to overlook safety procedures to ramp up production they know their employer does not truly care about their well-being.

Communication

Communication is the vehicle management uses to demonstrate its commitment to the safety process.  Employees at all levels must understand the importance of their safety to company leadership and that workplace safety is critical for the business to survive and to continue to provide employment opportunities.  More often than not, businesses take the wrong approach, using the metrics of injury costs to the business (such as workers’ compensation experience modification factors and loss ratios) instead of psycho/social metrics such as the disastrous post-accident consequences to an injured employee’s physical and mental well-being.  

Although it is important (and legally required) to provide communication to employees on how to do their job safely and what potential dangers exist, it is also important to educate them on how a permanent injury can change employees’ family situation, earning potential, and lifestyle.  Communication is about showing that the business cares about the employer-employee relationship.  Remember, as a business, you chose your employees through an interview process and likewise they chose your company as the vehicle for their livelihood.  Although most workplace injuries do not have a long-term effect on a business from a financial aspect (as their insurance policies mitigate the direct financial impact), a severely injured worker can be devastated for life.

Consistency

Most athletic coaches claim the number one indicator of success is consistency. In the workplace safety context, consistency is the action portion of the commitment to safety.  Having spent twenty years developing safety programs for high-injury companies,  without a doubt the most common failure is the lack of consistency.   Many companies spend a lot of time and money up front trying to get a safety process together, then after two months they abandon it because they can’t seem to find the time to schedule the next safety meeting.  Workplace safety is an integral part of the business operation.  Just like ordering products, collecting receivables, paying invoices, and holding sales meetings, safety needs to be on the calendar just like the other essential business operations.

The well being of a business and its employees depends on consistent communication of management’s commitment to safety. By following these three simple words starting with the letter “c” your business can quickly get on the fast track to workplace safety and stay there forever.

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Written by Dan Leporati, ARM, Syntrio Advisory Board.

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