SECRETS IN MANAGING SAFETY

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Mark Kunda

MANAGING safety is not a job of a safety manager alone but a full-time job of the entire management team of the company.

Management of successful companies understand that safety is a foundational pillar for business success and remaining competitive in the market place.

The major difference between successful and unsuccessful companies is the way they treat safety in a workplace. Unsuccessful companies have unsafe workplaces.

In such companies, workers are forced to conform to unsafe jobs and processes. In such workplaces, jobs are not designed to conform to the requirements of workers.

The limitations of workers such as height are not taken into consideration when designing workstations. Every employee wants to work in a safe work environment.

No worker wants to be injured for what they do. Work shouldn’t be a threat. Nothing that we do in workplaces is worth being injured for or, worse still, dying for.

Practice the following secrets in your workplace to manage safety successfully.

The first secret is leadership commitment. Success or failure of an organisation to achieve safety excellence depends on its leadership. The safety programme to succeed in an organisation, leadership commitment is a must. It is a responsibility of management to provide a safe workplace.

Management should show commitment by setting a good example to all employees. This requires that managers should comply with all safety procedures in place.

A manager who fails to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in a place where it is required will be sending a negative message to workers that it is acceptable not to wear PPE. As a manager do not just set safety rules for others, follow them also. Safety is a leadership issue.

Management should show commitment by making safety expectations clear to all employees.  Managers should talk about safety and explain why safety is important to the organiaation and the employees themselves.

When managers show interest in safety programmes, employees will also get interested. Safety should be the first item on the agenda of every meeting.

This will show employees that management gives priority to safety. Whatever is important to management will equally become important to employees.

Management should also show commitment through allocating enough resources to safety. Leaders are in a better place to influence the company budget to allocate adequate resources to support the safety programme in place. Managers should look at safety as an investment, not as a cost.

The second secret is employee involvement.  The people who are mostly exposed to safety hazards in a workplace are workers. Workers are found with machines all the time.

They are the ones who experience safety hazards first hand. Therefore, workers are in a better place to identify safety hazards before managers.

When employees are empowered with necessary skills, they can proactively spot safety hazards before they cause accidents. Management should create a safety culture where all employees are involved in driving safety in the workplace.

Employee involvement can be increased by ensuring that all employees are trained in basic safety principles. They should be trained in how to identify safety hazards and what to do to control them. Provide training to all employees.

The employees’ participation can also be improved by creating a culture where employees feel safe to participate. The culture of blaming victim employees for every accident should be avoided.

Companies with a blaming culture shift attention from the root cause of an accident to the person involved in the accident. As a result, safety problems are swept under the carpet.

When employees are blamed, they tend to hide safety hazards in a workplace. This in turn will make the workplace even more unsafe resulting in more accidents.

Employees should be encouraged to report all hazards, accidents and near misses. Employees will only report safety hazards if they know that they will not be blamed.

However, it should be mentioned that if the investigation of an incident revels that it was caused by willful violation of safety rules, the employee must be disciplined appropriately.

Management should make it clear to all employees that they have the right to stop the machine if it is unsafe to operate and that they have the right to refuse to perform any tasks which is unsafe.

The third secret is setting clear safety goals. It is important to clearly define what you want to achieve. Management should state clearly what safety excellence means.

Strategic goals for safety must be translated into specific actions to ensure that they are achieved. Having positive sounding slogans such as “safety first” is not enough.  Set clear goals.

Clear safety goals motivate employees to achieve them. But if the organisation does not have clear safety goals, employees will feel discouraged to implement safety programme in an organisation.

Clear safety goals promote healthy competition within the workplace as individuals or as teams. Workers will strive to outperform each other.  As a result there will be continuous improvement in the safety programme.

Employees will no longer look at complying with safety rules as a burden or as an inconvenience to their job performance. They will be motivated to meet and exceed the safety standards once they understand that safety goals are connected to their job performance which will affect their pay rise or promotion.

A safe workplace is the best workplace. Workers love employers who create a safe workplace for them. Management must demonstrate willingness make necessary investment in safety in form of time, money and effort to provide a safe workplace.

Be an exceptional manager who practices these secrets.  Every investment you make in safety will result in many direct and indirect benefits to your company. Don’t just work, work safely.

Until next week, stay safe. Zambia needs you.

*The author is the CEO of SafetyFocus, a leading safety company in Zambia. For your daily safety tips, like our Facebook page on www.facbook.com/safetyfocussuppliers.

For your comments, contact the author on cell +260 955 179267 or email: k.mark@safetyfocussuppliers.com

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