Promoting a Culture of Safety One Conversation at a Time
Everyone has a right to work in a safe environment as they provide for themselves and their families, and everyone deserves to return home to their loved ones safe at the end of each day.
At BrandSafway, we believe all our jobsites, offices and yards can be incident-free. To achieve these outcomes, safety must be a part of our culture — part of our thoughts and actions 24/7. Our safety mindset cannot be something we simply turn on when we arrive at work and then switch off at the end of the day. Our safety mindset needs to be a part of who we are.
Creating a culture of safety has an impact on everything in a company — from reliability and competitiveness to quality and productivity. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), almost 24,000 workers are injured every workday, ultimately adding up to billions in costs. These costs can be a result of one or several of the following factors:
- Lost production caused by downtime, damage to equipment and/or time away from the job by injured employees and co-workers
- Time and costs necessary to repair equipment
- Increased insurance premiums and legal costs
- Medical expenses
- Compensation to injured employees
- Lower morale and motivation, leading to poor performance, productivity and quality
- Unsatisfactory employee relations
And it’s important to realize that a culture of safety doesn’t end at the jobsite — it has a broad reach that affects operations, processes and organizational systems throughout an organization.
There are numerous keys to establishing a safety culture. Critical factors include the recognition that all incidents are preventable through correct procedures and best practices; the need to think and plan for safety — every task, every day and every job (safety doesn’t just happen); and a desire to continuously seek to improve.
Engaging in meaningful conversations about safety — including identifying correct procedures and best practices and taking time to think and plan for safety — is a key component to building an incident-free culture. It begins with observation. By observing our actions and the actions of our team members, we have an opportunity to identify practices that have improved safety, as well as areas where we need to evaluate routines already in place.
There are five steps to having a successful conversation about safety:
- Accentuate the positive whenever possible
- Explore the reasons why the individual performed the task the way s/he did
- Emphasize the consequences
- Agree on future actions
Open and frequent safety conversations allow for potential consequences to be identified, ideas to be exchanged freely, thought processes to be understood and everyone’s safety to be improved.
Stop Work Obligation
In addition, all BrandSafway employees have been given the power to use their Stop Work Obligation; whenever anyone anywhere identifies a potential safety issue, that employee has the authority and is obligated to stop work and initiate a conversation. Work cannot restart until the issue is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. By using our Stop Work Obligation, we can continue to grow our safety culture and improve our practices.
At the end of day, having open and frequent conversations is just one tool in the safety management toolbox. But, it’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reinforce a strong safety culture.