Does Your Organization “Get It”? How To Develop a Work Culture of Safety (Part 1)

Each year, the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health magazine publishes their list of “CEOs Who ‘Get It’” to honor leaders who not only work hard to run their business but have also prioritized creating an effective safety culture for their employees. The 2017 honorees have shown a passion for safety far beyond protecting themselves from lawsuits: for them, safety is a matter of protecting their employees, their clients, and their families. The positive impacts of prioritizing workplace safety are numerous: one organization increased productivity by 13 percent, another decreased employee error and saved over $265,000, average injury and illness costs decrease between 20 and 40 percent, and employees feel happier and more at ease knowing that their employer cares about their safety while on the job.

This is the first article in a series on how you and your business’s management can lead by example and improve your organization’s safety culture. Our goal is to explore safety measures that are effective in 2017 and have been implemented in a variety of different industries: a manufacturing business, for example, would have different exposures than a medical facility, and every individual business has different safety measures that will work best with their employees and business model. We encourage you to take a look at this blog and our coming posts to learn more about what leaders can do to improve safety at their business, and ask yourself how your current safety efforts compare to these leaders.

Ray Brown: Increasing Safety Involvement

Ray Brown is the CEO of ESCO Group, a company that provides safety training services to variety of clients across a number of industries, most frequently food and beverage, manufacturing, municipalities, and agriculture. Their safety training is on topics such as electrical engineering, construction, and safety, as well as plant automation and arc flash analysis. Because his organization provides safety training services to other businesses, it is crucial for his company to embrace safety culture in their own workplace. Brown has emphasized the importance of keeping safety measures “fresh” and relatable to employees, and worked to ensure that they interact daily with the safety department to keep them in the safety state of mind.

Safety efforts should start at the management level, and you should continually set a good example for your team, but a company’s leaders cannot shoulder all of the burden. Ask yourself, are your employees as committed to workplace safety as you are? If not, how are you working to increase employee engagement within your safety program?

Timothy J. Gassman: Regular Safety Training

Timothy J. Gassman, CEO of Iowa-based risk management and insurance agency Millhiser Smith, has made it a mission to prevent loss and accidents from occurring at his business, and has elected to do this by instilling a strong sense of safety in his organization through quarterly safety training, regular testing of their Emergency Action plan, education on OSHA topics, and establishing a Risk Improvement Team to quickly and diligently work to minimize the impact of incidents that do occur and provide a comprehensive post-incident analysis to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. It is worth noting that Gassman’s business is not in what would be considered a “high-hazard” industry. It is a common misconception that more desk-oriented businesses do not need to put as much of a focus on workplace safety, but Gassman demonstrates that every business can and should work to keep their employees and clients safe.

Gassman identified his organization’s biggest obstacle as “safety complacency” – the act of growing assured with one’s safety and neglecting to consider smaller, everyday safety concerns. No matter what industry you work in, there will always be liabilities that threaten to undermine your business’s effectiveness, productivity, and safety, and they aren’t always going to be obvious on the surface. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did your employees ever receive safety training? Did you ever follow up? How frequently are your employees “refreshed” on safety matters?
  • What does your safety training entail?
  • Would your employees know what to do in the event of a safety incident?
  • When was the last time you re-examined and altered your emergency plans?
  • How does your organization respond to a safety incident in order to ensure that it does not happen again?

About Compass RMS

The risk management firm Risk Management, Inc. has specialized in workers’ compensation since 1996, creating the CWCP (Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional) program in 1999 and the P4 process in 2000. We launched our Compass Risk Management platform in 2008 and recently released version 4.0. For more information about our services, give us a call at (770) 534-2042 to speak with one of our consultants.