The 3 Enemies of a Successful Safety Management System
There are many obstacles to launching and maintaining a successful safety program at a facility. However, there are obstacles, and then there are enemies. An obstacle can be identified, assessed, and resolved with effective planning and resources. An enemy, on the other hand, doesn’t go away that easily. In fact, most times we live with them and don’t even know it. That’s because there are no permanent fixes for enemies; they are merely part of any system subject to time and human error. When it comes to having a successful safety management system, there are three enemies that may always require some form of vigilance: Complacency Complacency can lead to a decreased level of safety awareness and an increased risk of workplace injuries. As safety professionals, it is our job to make sure that workers stay alert and actively practice safety measures. Do not be fooled. That amazingly long injury-free streak doesn’t mean every hazard has suddenly disappeared. Keep looking and remain consistent with inspections and audits. Continuous improvement processes are crucial for proactively finding problems before they produce consequences. Distractions Distractions cause workers’ attention to be diverted from the task at hand. This can lead to risky situations or errors that drift away from established safety procedures. If safety protocols are not being followed properly because employees are distracted, both safety and productivity may suffer. What makes it worse is that most errors seem harmless and without issue. Nobody calls it out, no one makes a big deal. That is, until that single mistake has a domino effect with a disastrous outcome. The most tragic accidents are the preventable ones. Lack of Knowledge Lack of knowledge regarding new or updated regulations as outlined by OSHA, EPA or DOT can have serious consequences for employers who do not comply with them. Ignorance of the law does not excuse any failure to abide by it. Part of being an effective safety professional is keeping abreast of industry news and the potential impacts to their business’ operations in terms of applicability and requirements for compliance. There are always going to be changes and new developments; to stay constant is to inevitably become outdated. These three enemies of safety should never be underestimated. Safety professionals must always remain on their toes so that workplace hazards can be minimized, and a successful safety management system maintained. With a safety-first attitude, employers can remain compliant with relevant regulations while minimizing the risk of injury for their employees. This creates a more productive work environment where safety is taken seriously. A safe operation is a profitable operation. Together, safety professionals and employers can make sure safety is a priority for everyone.