How Are Your Safety Systems? A Short Quiz
By Josh Williams, Ph.D.
One of the most important aspects of safety leadership is providing effective safety management systems and a safe work environment. Employees are more likely to be injured if the organization has safety management system failures such as inadequate manpower, unreasonable production pressure, excessive overtime, faulty equipment, insufficient safety training, unclear safety policies, non-existent safety meetings, poor safety communication, and blame-oriented discipline procedures.
Leaders improve safety culture by optimizing these key safety management systems:
• Close Call Reporting: Close call reporting should be encouraged in a learning environment. Close calls help people learn from each other to prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). Smart leaders appreciate employees for openly reporting and discussing near-hits that could have been worse.
• Incident Analyses: Incident analyses should be system focused and not blame-oriented. Leaders need to differentiate between incidents with and without SIF potential. For instance, spraining your ankle stepping out of a truck is very different doing so falling from a telephone pole. Lessons learned from incident analyses should be shared with employees and system improvements should follow when appropriate.
• Rules and Policies: Employees should have input in determining safety rules for many job tasks. Leaders should avoid “blanket policies” when they’re not applicable and resist the temptation to create a new rule every time someone gets injured.
• Safety Training: Safety training should be interactive and interesting. Employees should leave training feeling like they’ve been actively involved and learned something important. They should not feel like they’ve just gone through the motions especially with computer-based training.
• Hazard Recognition/Correction: Employee teams should assist with hazard recognition and correction. Identified hazards need to be quickly and effectively addressed. Advertising improvements based on identified hazards improves safety culture and morale because employees sense company leaders care about their safety.
• Employee Participation: Employees should be actively involved in the safety systems above. Exhortations to get involved are far less effective than having employee representatives actively involved in systems like observations, rule changes, and safety suggestions.
Here is a quick quiz to test the strength of your safety systems. For the following items, rate your response from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) that best describes your agreement with the strength of these systems you’re managing. Add up your numbers to get your final scores. Scores above 85 are very strong and those below 60 are problematic. Also, items receiving ratings of “1” or “2” need special attention.
Safety Systems Quiz
1. Safety hazards are quickly and effectively addressed. __________
2. Safety rules/policies are clear, well documented, and communicated to employees. __________
3. Employee input is solicited in developing safety rules/policies. __________
4. A discipline policy exists, is well documented, and effectively communicated to all employees. __________
5. Incident analysis processes seek out system factors contributing to incidents and aren’t blame oriented. __________
6. The incident analysis process isn’t called an incident “investigation.” __________
7. Punishment is rarely used following injuries. __________
8. Safety training is interactive and interesting. __________
9. The majority of safety training is not done via computer-based training. __________
10. New employees receive sufficient training before working. __________
11. More experienced employees receive regular refresher training. __________
12. Safety meetings are regularly conducted and beneficial. __________
13. Employees are actively involved in safety efforts. __________
14. Safety committees have hourly representatives who have legitimate power. __________
15. There is a formal near miss process. __________
16. The near miss process is effective. __________
17. Punishment is not associated with near miss reporting. __________
18. Minor injuries are reported. __________
19. Punishment is not associated with minor injury reporting. __________
20. Employees don’t have to deal with excessive paperwork following a minor injury. __________
At Propulo, we coach leaders to focus on prosocial safety behaviors and avoid pitfalls that derail safety efforts. We can help your leaders stay on track and make step change improvements in your safety performance. For more information on this topic, read about Safety & Safety Culture at Propulo Consulting.