Improving safety is a process, and many improvement processes are similar. Even the steps for getting out of debt can be applied to safety. As revised for safety, those steps might look something like this:
- Recognize the problem and make a commitment to address it. You’ll need to go beyond the regulations, which will require some investment. Paying the minimum on a credit card each month won’t reduce the balance very quickly, and making a minimum investment in safety won’t show much payoff either.
- Prioritize the most problematic areas, but consider the investment required and the resources available. You might choose something further down the priority list if that item is readily achievable. Consider where you can make a meaningful difference in a short amount of time (ideally a year or less). Making progress is better than delaying for lack of resources, and a victory should help build support for tackling additional items on the list. Obtain input from affected departments on where they’d like to focus based on identified hazards and available resources.
- After selecting an area, implement the plan. Getting others involved and holding them accountable will be critical.
- Once the plan is implemented, follow up regularly. Successful implementation requires ongoing monitoring.
- Track progress using self-audits and report out the successes. Highlight progress even if you didn’t achieve the full objective. Demonstrate that you’re moving in the right direction, and determine if progress was hindered by lack of resources or support.
- Identify the next item on your list and start at Step 2 again. While tackling two issues at a time may be tempting, consider whether more than one area can be given the necessary focus. A dual focus may be possible if the topics affect different departments and sufficient resources are available.
- Build on each success by getting others to support and embrace further efforts, and continue tackling additional items on the list.
These steps are simple to read, but finding the commitment and resources to get started can be challenging. Just like getting out of debt is a family commitment, improving safety performance is a company-wide commitment. Don’t try to go it alone. You’ll need support from upper management and line supervisors. The results, however, make for a stronger company.