I’m Not a Statistic: Safety is Your Number One Priority? We call BS.
11 August 2022 - Evotix
As individuals, it’s likely we each have our own personal values that we live by. In business, company values are ever present, from global powerhouses such as Apple and Nike, right through to small start-ups. Businesses pride themselves on their values. They often include transparency, honesty, ambition, integrity and accountability. These company values act as guiding principles and fundamental beliefs that shape an entire business, enabling organizations to better themselves and work towards a common goal.
Now health and safety isn’t typically a core value for businesses (despite many claiming it as their ‘number one priority’). BUT, in reality, health and safety should be part of these key values.
For example, transparency and accountability requires businesses to be honest and upfront about their safety records – even the negatives. Yet, everywhere you look, there are examples of businesses not setting the right standards – from a large brewery allegedly creating a ‘culture of fear’ for its employees, to a recent horrifying story of a recycling worker who was killed by a machine as a result of negligent health and safety standards within the company.
These are just a few examples; many more, unfortunately, exist. This is why health and safety really needs to be an integral part of any business – right down to its core values. Which is why, at Evotix, our focus is simple; help reduce the number of workplace accidents. Something we’ve focused on for 25 years, and we’re not stopping until workplace accidents are a thing of the past.
Is safety really your number one priority?
Our guess is that you can say that safety, while it might be a high priority, is likely not your number one priority. And to be clear, you’re not alone. Which is why we’re here.
In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies are – understandably – focused on maximizing profits, keeping up with the latest technological advancements in their field and maintaining customer relationships. This often means that health and safety considerations become an afterthought, seen as a distraction from other organizational goals. In worst-case scenarios, this attitude leads to severe workplace accidents – many of which are completely avoidable.
The sad case of the recycling worker referenced above demonstrates the reality of why safe operations need to be a true number one priority. It was clear that the health and safety guidelines of the facility were shockingly bad – from a lack of proper training, a failure to put in place contingencies, to the fact that a safety manual for the machine in question didn’t exist. This highlights how a leadership that pursues profit over basic safety practices lead to unsafe behavior that ultimately resulted in a fatality.
What’s clear from this case is that the accident was completely preventable…if the right safety measures had been put in place and followed. There were several levels of fault, including leadership teams who did not carefully look at their risk assessment and consider what their employees are doing day-to-day, in order to accurately determine where the risks lie.
We need some honesty
We understand that businesses cannot operate without profitability. But in reality, rather than eating into profit margins, safety is a driver for business success. It strengthens operations, drives engagement and improves productivity among employees. C-suite executives must realize this and make safety a top organizational priority.
Businesses need strong operations to perform well. This requires consistency, reliability and predictability – whether in the flow of activity or quality of output. They need to be able to identify and mitigate sources of disruption, respond quickly and decisively to any incidents, and learn from mistakes to create a culture of continuous improvement. Sound familiar? That’s because good safety management helps reinforce strong operational performance, and creates business value by making the process more effective.
Of course, ‘continuous improvement’ sounds impressive, but it’s actually an achievable goal. What practical steps can be taken to achieve it? Engaged employees are key: not only are they more productive, but they are more likely to share their insights on what it’s really like in the workplace, and what can be done to make it operate better.
Safety is a huge part of this, and a great topic for employee engagement. It demonstrates care for the employee and also helps generate ideas – both about safety and other operational improvements.
Businesses need to be honest with themselves and their employees. Of course, they need to turn a profit to stay operational – but safety isn’t an impediment to that. Properly executed, good health and safety practices can bring significant business value.
Safety as a core business value
Ultimately, safety should not be an afterthought: it’s an integral part of business success. There’s no room to be complacent: horrific incidents might seem unlikely, but in reality, they’re more common than you think, and you can’t assume that leadership and frontline staff will automatically do the right thing and put steps in place to prevent them.
It’s time to put words into actions. If you think safety is a top priority in your business have you taken the proper steps to ensure employee safety? Actions like proper employee training, the right software to identify risk, checks and balances to ensure employees are safe day after day, etc. Businesses that achieve think this way can reap the rewards: not only do they protect their employees, who are their most important asset, but they protect their bottom line benefits as well, driving better operations and increasing revenue.
Make health and safety a top priority today and inspire your organization to make positive change. The Evotix EHS Academy is a great place to start; see how we can support your next steps.
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