A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Viewing Safety through a Performance Based Looking Glass: Part 1 of 2

As Safety Professionals, we are dedicated to the protection of people, property and the environment.  Our success is often measured in the amount of human suffering we prevent as we chart OSHA rates for recordable injuries, lost work day cases or cases of restricted work activity.  We attempt to quantify our success as we compare past results against current performance.  If the needle trends downward, we pat ourselves on the back, notify management and tout the success of our safety efforts.  We become singular in focus as if the success or failure of our organization is predicated on this sole outcome.  This type of thinking causes us to be pigeon holed in our world, many times, outside of the heartbeat of the organization and its leadership.  We are brought into the Board room to report on a certain situation and promptly escorted out once our information and expertise is no longer needed.  It is a sad reality that this is how a large majority of safety professionals operate.  If this is how you operate, the question becomes, “why should I change and if I do, how do I change?”

To address the question of “why should I change,” I challenge you to view safety through a performance based looking glass.  As safety professionals, much of our time is spent on research of standards and creating policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable governmental standards.  This methodology breeds a compliance or prescriptive based approach that restricts our influence throughout an organization.  Our sphere of influence becomes limited to rules and regulations and not strategies that can drive organizational change and improve financial performance.  This methodology keeps us on the outside looking in.  The “why” question can be summed up with the answer that as Safety Professionals, we want to have the greatest sphere of influence possible so we can be seen as organizational change agents that deliver superior performance that meets organizational goals and objectives.

I will address the “how to do this” question in my next article.