How to avoid the "reactive safety management loop"

The role of management is to maximize long-term shareholder value by allocating limited resources to satisfy the primary stakeholders. To achieve that objective, most business leaders set strategies for and measure their results against areas like service quality, supplier satisfaction, current profitability, employee morale and overall operating costs. Failure to set a strategy for safety amongst these ultra-competing measures, ultimately is the cause of what I like to call "reactive safety management."

Cash is the life's blood of any business and therefore the costs associated with safety performance can never be de-coupled from a company's bottom line. Reactive safety management is most commonly the result of rising claims and insurance costs negative effect on a company's bottom line. Accident and injuries are up, cost of insurance increases and profitability is down. Management reacts, safety awareness is raised, short-term success is achieved, complacency sets in and the process is repeated. Repeating this process is what I call the "Reactive Safety Management Loop."

Companies do not set out to create the "Reactive Safety Management Loop". It naturally shows up under ultra competing priorities when safety is not included in the business strategy and the annual business plan. Short-term safety success is easy, sustainability is the management challenge.

In order to avoid the "Reactive Safety Management Loop", consider the following as part of your safety strategy;

  1. Create safety as a value throughout the organization.

  2. Establish a safety policy.

  3. Plan and set standards.

  4. Establish an audit and review system.

  5. Celebrate small wins towards achieving success.

  6. Measure and report safety results regularly.

  7. Make safety as important as other things you do to succeed.