For many years, safety in the workplace was a conceptual term closely associated with compliance and standard operating procedures. However, advances in safety methodologies, processes and technology have culminated in what’s now known as safety excellence.
A cross-industry transition is taking place – albeit in different stages – where organizations are beginning to move from reactive gap-filling regimes to integrated safety strategies.
But what does this transition look like? What are the challenges and influencing factors prompting organizations to re-think their approaches?
Ahead of the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) Conference in October, we caught up with Terry Mathis, Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, and Shawn Galloway, President of ProAct Safety, to find out how organizations can create a safety excellence strategy based on transformational and continuous improvement. This article explores seven steps companies can take to ensure safety fits into the business operating model and enhances productivity.
Shawn Galloway, President and COO of ProAct Safety Terry Mathis, Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety
Start with the strategy instead of the assessment
Companies have often approached safety by starting with a situational assessment, and begin, as Terry says, by “discovering a gap somewhere, and addressing it by throwing a program at it.”
“They would talk about it or take some kind of action, and we found that doing an assessment first was almost counterproductive to strategic thinking. There’s a risk where companies can become so reactive and engrossed in the details of an assessment,” he explains.
Without a strategy, a company is perpetually firefighting different issues with limited coordination. According to Shawn, strategy isn’t merely stating where the company is heading or how it’s going to get there in the context of safety excellence.
Instead, it’s a framework of choices a company makes to determine how to capture and deliver value. That’s the essence of strategy.
“With strategy, you have to clearly define where you’re going and what it looks like when you get there. What success looks like serves as a qualifier for choices of what we’re going to do, not do or stop doing,” Shawn says.
“Assessment should prove or disprove the choices you’re making. Assessment isn’t completely divorced from strategy. It’s a part of it, but strategy begins as a hypothesis on how we are going to win and add value.”
Use the assessment to validate choices related to safety
The assessment should comprise data gathering to validate or invalidate decisions. Some of these decisions could expose other issues that need to be dealt with first, and therefore re-define the focus.
Benchmarking against strategy helps to prioritize safety requirements in the short and long term. Otherwise, there is an assumption at the executive level that everyone perceives safety the same way.
“We’ve found that it’s entirely the opposite” says Terry. “Everyone has a different idea of how it ought to be, and if you don’t get together on how it ought to be, then each person or business unit goes off their own vision of what safety ought to be.”
This article is part of an insights series ahead of the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) Conference, where Terry and Shawn will present on ensuring safety excellence is supported by continuous improvement and drives value creation and business productivity.
Continue reading the full article to learn more about using situational assessments to validate safety-related decisions, and combining safety & production strategies to align injury/incident prevention with organizational needs.
If you’d like to know more about the Future of Safety Excellence (FuSE) conference, please download the brochure or visit www.energyconferencenetwork.com/future-safety-excellence-minneapolis.