OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THE “INDUSTRY OF SAFETY MANAGEMENT”
April 17, 2014
- Written by STACS President, Steve Johnson.
Having been in the safety business for some 36 years now, I find it fascinating that while reviewing journals, articles and professional publications, how we tend to repeat the same message endlessly.
Since the inception of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in Ontario (I know for a fact that this occurs in other jurisdictions as well), we as Safety professionals have been "preaching" that Safety must begin at the Senior management level. The old adage, "if it's not important at the top, it won't be important at the bottom," has been in circulation forever.
This philosophy has been established in law in many jurisdictions. For example, in Ontario, the defense of due diligence has been in effect for several decades. The nucleus of this approach is the internal responsibility system.
Each significant workplace party, the owner, employer, contractor, supervisor and worker have been assigned specific legal responsibilities and are accountable for those actions.
In addition, we as professionals have been advocating that there are both positive and negative incentives for managing safety.
On a positive note, when our most important asset, our people, aren't being injured or killed, our profitability as an organization is sustained or even increased.
Negatively, there are both financial and legal penalties for failing to manage safety. In fact, with the passage of bill C-45 federally, significant terms of incarceration can occur.
It appears to me that this is fundamentally understood on an intellectual basis, but it is sorely lacking on a practical, real-life basis.
I witness the same conversations regarding safety and it's role within organizations today, that I did 36 years ago.
Please take a moment to review a well written article by Matthew Badrov, in the Daily Commercial News, here; MARCH 31, 2014 (http://dcnonl.com/article/id59665/--workplace-safety-due-diligence-vital-to-everyone-says-expert).
No offence to Mr Badrov, but I've read articles like these, 20 years ago. Even though it was a concise review of the philosophy of Due Diligence, it presented nothing new.
We have to discontinue recycling the same old information in the hopes that the proverbial light switch will turn on and that people will, "Get It."
Until all levels of the organization understand that Safety needs to be managed, like every other facet of an organization, we're going to continue to have the same conversations and discourse.
Just like production, quality and labour, goals need to be set, resources both financial and organizational are required to be allocated and progress needs to be tracked.
I've always advocated that if some companies managed production in the same way they do safety, they would never get a product out the door!
I've witnessed on many occasions when Senior Managers schedule production meetings, the key parties attend. However, when Safety meetings are slotted, those that can attend, will attend, but even those participants are sometimes resentful because in their opinion, it's taking away from time that could be better spent elsewhere.
A Senior Executive who takes an active role in their Safety Program, is sadly still a rare commodity, causing us to keep repeating and recycling the same information.