Two Questions to Improve the Quality of Safety Observations
By Eric Michrowski
Observations have been and continue to be a powerful tool for improving safety performance – especially when they are used to their full potential. They allow leaders to recognize good safety behavior and opportunities for improvement. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the focus is placed on the volume of observations instead of the quality conversations taking place.
People get stuck in a loop of filling out paperwork for the sake of meeting a certain quota, forgetting to take the quality of observations into account and losing sight of their ultimate goals: preventing injuries and saving lives. In fact, in some organizations, quality observations constitute less than 10% of total observations!
While quality conversations are not strictly measurable, it is essential to listen to people’s stories to gain an understanding of the motivation behind safe and risky behaviors. Conversations drive behavior and have a significant impact on safety culture growth.
Inciting Quality Observations
In order to improve the quality of observations and their practical application, consider asking these two powerful and effective questions, in team meetings or in one-on-one settings:
- Based on your observations this week, where will the next injury happen? How can we prevent it from happening?
- What best practice or choice did you notice through your observations this week that we should share with the broader team?
After reflecting on these safety observation questions, leaders can extend them to their teams, creating a cascade effect across all levels of your organization. At first, team members might give you a deer-caught-in-headlights look – but through repetition and the establishment of a trust-based relationship, you will eventually get the right responses and be able to implement better actions tailored to your specific safety situation.
Read more from this blog series: TWO QUESTIONS TO INCREASE ACTIVE CARE AND IMPROVE YOUR SAFETY CULTURE