What We Built Into Simple Safety Coach, and Why
By Susen Trail | 07/21/2020
"Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink." This is a line from English poet Samuel Taylor Coolidge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It refers to sailors dying of thirst surrounded by the salt water of the ocean.
As we discussed in part one, our team at Simple Safety Coach not only has a great deal of experience to draw from, but we also listened to the wants and needs of upper management, Safety Managers, middle management, and employees. All play some role, large or small, in creating a safety culture. We’ve said this in several blogs but to distill our source information down we identified the following gaps in almost every business:
- Upper management often did not factor safety into strategic planning, including budgets, because they only got the information what, when, and how they asked for it.
- Middle management, supervisors, directors, etc., had difficulty seeing the reason behind changes for safety and therefore had difficulty explaining and enforcing safety rules.
- Employees would see a hazard and wonder "why doesn’t someone do something about that?"
- Safety Managers have all of the above 'consumers' of their safety product but often are "outside of the loop". Which means Safety is outside of the workplace.
I once drove three hours to a business where an employee complained about an unsafe condition. I called the complainant first to make sure that internal reporting processes had been at least attempted. The employee had used the designated process a month or so before. When I arrived, I was told that, within days after her report, appropriate and effective action had been taken. I verified that and then asked them why they had not communicated back to the employee? They didn’t seem to understand the question.
Why would you go to all the trouble and stress of reporting a hazardous condition when you appeared to be ignored?
As we started to draw out how Simple Safety Coach would work, we knew the primary emphasis would be on transparency and ease of access. We developed extremely simple and fast tools to report hazards.
- We created swift venues for employees to report hazards. If they weren’t fast and easy to use few would use them. Employees see 100% of hazards before they become an accident, don’t waste that.
- We created a dashboard so that all employees could see the hazards reported, to compare against the ones they knew about. The dashboard ensured everyone could see the investigation process and results. No surprises.
- The dashboard also showed accidents, minus specific injury and injured party details. This allows management and employees to look for similar conditions requiring abatement elsewhere.
- We created a participation points system to both recognize and track employee involvement.
We've since incorporated many other ways for everyone at every level to become part of the safety process/culture.
Now, back to our poem. A Safety Manager trying to carry the entire safety culture on his/her back results in high turnover and poor results. A Safety Manager, with much of the paperwork handled by automated processes and an informed worksite, recognizes that the salt water is actually the employees and management all around him/her able to take responsibility for their small part of the safety process.
With their participation, the workplace becomes a whole, sustainable, functioning, Safety Culture.