In workplace safety, creating an effective safety program hinges on a crucial element: accountability. A robust accountability system not only ensures adherence to policies and procedures but also leads to overall improvement in efficiency, quality, and proactive safety practices. However, the challenge arises when teams fail to hold individuals accountable. This is where the concept of a “data-driven safety culture” comes into play, transforming how organizations approach safety and accountability.

Data-Driven Safety Culture: A Strategic Approach

The foundation of a data-driven safety culture lies in collecting and analyzing information on various aspects of safety management. Initially, many safety professionals focus on regulatory compliance, training, and inspections. Yet, every facet of safety, from behaviors to hazards, compliance, inspections, accidents, and claims, generates valuable data. This data becomes a potent tool for identifying program gaps and concentrating efforts where they yield maximum impact.

Identifying Underperforming Supervisors: A Data-Backed Strategy

One key application of a data-driven safety culture is pinpointing underperforming supervisors. By sorting and analyzing assessment data, observation data, coaching data, accident analysis data, and more, safety leaders can reveal disparities in performance. An underperforming supervisor, evident in the data, becomes a focal point for intervention. Overlaying this data with other metrics such as efficiency, quality, and expenses creates a compelling case for action.

Addressing Unsafe Employee Behavior Through Data

The data-driven approach extends beyond supervisors to highlight unsafe employee behavior. Continuous incidents of rule violations by a specific employee can be backed by data, providing a foundation for targeted intervention. This method not only helps improve individual safety but also allows safety professionals to measure the effectiveness of their coaching over time.

Revealing Systemic Safety Issues: A Holistic Perspective

Data analysis can uncover an overall lack of focus on safety within an organization. When safety data consistently displays subpar performance, it signals a systemic problem that transcends individual supervisors or employees. Linking this data to financial figures reinforces the argument for a strategic shift in focus. The systematic approach involves selecting one specific safety aspect, working on improvement, and gradually addressing broader safety concerns.

Fostering Accountability: A Cultural Transformation

Sharing data-driven insights with both management teams and employees becomes a catalyst for change. In monthly executive meetings or manager gatherings, presenting supervisor-specific data emphasizes accountability. The data-driven approach helps shift the mindset of management and employees, revealing the financial impact of safety lapses and fostering a culture of accountability.

Building Employee Morale Through Fair Accountability

The transparency of a data-driven safety culture also enhances employee morale. By showcasing specific improvements and recognizing compliance achievements, employees feel fairly treated. The data-driven accountability system eliminates perceptions of bias, making it clear that the goal is improvement, not punishment. This, in turn, motivates employees to actively participate in safety initiatives.

A Data-Driven Future for Workplace Safety

Embracing a data-driven safety culture not only identifies areas for improvement but also transforms how organizations approach safety and accountability. By leveraging data to reveal gaps, safety professionals can effectively communicate the need for accountability to both management and employees. In the journey toward creating a safer workplace, data emerges as a powerful ally, steering organizations toward a future where safety is not just a priority but an ingrained part of the organizational culture.

Take Action

Redesign your safety program by exploring in-depth data collecting, identifying areas of underperformance, and strategically communicating findings to employees and management. Execute focused enhancement programs, track improvements, and foster an environment where data-driven decisions drive continuous safety improvement.

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Unlocking Accountability: How Data Drives a Safer Workplace
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Safety Brye: [00:00:00] I believe one of the key factors in creating an effective safety program is accountability. But when you have a team who doesn't hold anyone accountable, what do you do? Here's the fact when you have a strong accountability system, everything in the workplace just improves because everybody is always following the best way to do the work, whether it is safe work practices, whether it's being proactive in those safe work practices, their efficiency, their quality, everything improves when you have a strong accountability system. And the best way to get that system is to have a team that holds others accountable to following the policies, the procedures and the best practices.

But when they don't, there is a way that you can use your data to drive accountability, at least in your safety program. And maybe you could start that ball rolling to where it affects the other areas as

[00:01:00] well. Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent, CSP and 20 year safety professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again. I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you. At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career.

If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place. Let's get to it. All right, now back to data driven accountability. So as a safety leader, you want to be collecting data on just about everything that you

[00:02:00] do. So a lot of times when we get started in safety, we're just thinking regulations and training and inspections. But everything you do in safety has data that you can be collecting.

It could be data on behaviors, on hazards, on compliance, on inspections, on accidents and claims. Everything you do is data. How many people attended your training? How frequently are you training them? Everything ends up being data. And the data can be used to help you identify gaps within your program and to focus your efforts on what will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

And that's typically what I teach inside of Safety Management Academy. But that's not what I'm talking about today, because there is a way that you can use all of this data to actually drive accountability within your organization. And this is especially needed when you have people in your organization that aren't typically holding people accountable.

[00:03:00] So let's say that you have an underperforming supervisor and the way that you would know this is that as you're collecting assessment data, observation data, coaching data, accident analysis data, even training data and inspection data if you were to sort that by area that it was found in and then even sort it further by the supervisor.

What you'll see when you do your data and analysis is maybe one supervisor is underperforming than the other. So, you know, you have a problem with one supervisor. So, what you can do is take that data and say, okay, here's a supervisor that isn't coaching. The way that they're supposed to that isn't holding their people accountable that maybe isn't making sure that everybody is doing their training on time. And then I'm going to overlay that data with accidents and claims and even grab the data from the quality

[00:04:00] department or from operations to get their efficiency numbers or from the CFO and get their expenses for that particular area. And when you overlay one over the other. It will clearly show a difference because in my experience, it is always been that if a company or even an area is underperforming in safety, they're also underperforming everywhere else.

Very rarely, do you have that, like, oh, there are best employee or their best department. But when you really drill down into the data, yeah, they might be killing it in their operations numbers, but they're costing you a fortune in expenses. They're getting returns because their quality is so bad and they're having really high accidents or they're having a high turnover rate for their HR department. So typically you can find other areas that they are lacking in as well. And then what I would do if at your

[00:05:00] monthly executive advisory committee, if you do that, if you don't join Safety Management Academy, I'll show you how to do that, or at a manager's meeting, you share all the supervisor's data, right?

And you share all of it. And that one underperforming supervisor is going to shine out, right? They're gonna be like this spotlight that everyone's gonna be like, what's going on with that person? Or maybe those two people. And you can say, well, look, this is where they are. They're not doing the right things and you're sharing it with everybody.

So just you sharing it with the management team should get them to take some action on that supervisor, especially when you compare it to the bottom line of the organization and how that lack of action by that supervisor is costing them money. Okay? And what I would also do is that when you have an underperforming supervisor, before you throw them under the

[00:06:00] bus at the manager's meeting, maybe work with them and say, look, I've been running my reports. You're at the bottom of my list for compliance. What can I do to help you? And that way, when your managers ask instead of because what will happen is your managers will see this data and then they'll blame you first, not their supervisor. It always happens. It's weird. They're like, well, you're not teaching them enough.

So if you can actually show like, hey, these are the steps I've taken to try to improve the supervisor and he's not improving, or she's not improving, then you're putting it in their hands to hold that supervisor accountable. So I would definitely try to take some steps to maybe shadow them work 1 on 1 with them, maybe put them through some training before you go throwing them under the bus.

But identifying who those underperforming supervisors are is key to give you the data to back up your, I guess you could say accusation. So,

[00:07:00] another thing this data can do is that it could highlight an unsafe employee. So, if you have an employee that is just constantly getting nicked for like they're not following the rules.

They're not following the rules over and over again. You then have backup for you to then focus on that employee. Because if you just start picking on one employee and going, I'm going to pick this one employee out and put them through extra training. And I'm going to, every time I walk into the room, I'm going to be checking on them and making sure they're doing everything right.

You can start getting some retaliation from that employee where they think that you're picking on them, but you're not picking on them. You just know that they're an unsafe employee and you want to make sure that they're following the rules. And if you have all this data, that helps back up your case. And what's so great about this is that you can actually measure how well you're coaching is with that one employee. So if you catch an employee who

[00:08:00] is extremely unsafe and you start coaching them and you start documenting what you're doing, you can see how effective your coaching is over time and how well that employee has improved. And then lastly, all this data can show you an overall lack of focus on safety. So let's say that you're running your data and it's just all over the board bad, right? You can show that there is a lack of focus on safety.

And then you could show that against the dollar figures as well. And that's when you know, like, look, we have an overall systemic problem where people are ignoring safety and this is what it is costing us. So let's just work on one thing at a time and try to improve that. And this is where I love data, because as you are working on one thing at a time through a continuous improvement process, you can show improvements based on that accountability focus, right? So let's say that you

[00:09:00] said, okay, we want to improve PPE usage and the amount of people that are working on their PPE you can be very specific on what you're improving and you can measure it over time. And the best part about this is that when you are improving safety in one specific area, you can share your results, not just with the management team, but if you share them with the employees.

So, if there's an overall lack of focus on safety, and then you share with the employees on a regular basis that you're watching PPE compliance, right? And you share those results and you share it by department or by supervisor, those employees will start to perform better just because our brains are wired for competition.

We always want to try to achieve more and be the winner and be the best and all that good stuff. That's just the way our brains are wired. So, when you share these results, and you share them in a very specific way that shows it more gamified of one, like scores or grades or anything like that. It makes

[00:10:00] employees try to make sure they're doing it right, because they don't want to be the one that is giving their team the bad score, right? Sometimes employees don't want to do more, but they don't want to be the one that is causing their team to lose either. So sharing that with employees can really get one specific area improved. So if you have an overall lack of focus on safety, just pick one area, focus on that, get that working and then move on to the next area and then the next area.

And the whole idea is to use these tactics to try to change the hearts and minds of your management team and your employees. So, a lot of times we think like, well, if they were just hold them accountable and going back to a previous episode, a lot of times management team doesn't understand accountability.

They don't understand what you expect out of them. But using these tactics of collecting the data and sharing the data, both with management and employees and breaking it down by supervisor or department

[00:11:00] area, it gets them to kind of make those internal connections that will change their hearts and minds about safety and about holding their people accountable. Because for the management team,

they see the gaps, right? They see like their gaps, especially when you overlay the accident with the efficiency or the quality data, it shows to them that they're leaving money on the table. And this is easy money, right? So it's hard for them to go out and get new sales, but if they could tighten up their operations, this is more money to the bottom line.

And for the employees, it shows to them that you're being fair. That you are trying to improve safety, not to fire them. And that is never my goal when I'm coaching employees is to fire them. So it's always about like, Hey, we want you to improve and to do it the right way. And then you using your data can show that you just treat everybody the same. So it ends any of that

[00:12:00] animosity about like, oh, you're picking on me. No, I'm not. Not picking on you, I'm just trying to get you to improve so that way you don't get fired. Right? And it helps build employee morale. Like, if you have a strong accountability system, employees appreciate it because they know everybody's being treated fairly and they know that their good work is going to be recognized. So if you're struggling to get your team to hold people accountable, then I want you to try this out. I want you to try using your data to prove to them that there are gaps and that you've done everything you can to fill these gaps. Now it's time for them to step in and make sure that people are being held accountable. And just be very specific.

Like, you want to make sure everyone's wearing their steel toed shoes, or they're wearing their PPE, or that they're inspecting the equipment before they use it. Be very specific in what your data is showing. So that way that manager can go. Okay. I just need to make sure everybody [00:13:00] inspects the equipment every day and my numbers will improve.

So if you can do it that way, it'll really work. So I hope this helps you out. I'm a huge fan of data driven safety programs. I think that is the best way to go. If that interests you, then make sure that you hop on over to thesafetygeek.com/newsletter and I will share lots more resources with you moving forward straight to your inbox. Alrighty, my safety friend, bye for now. You have an amazing day.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • The Role of Accountability in Safety Programs: Explore the impact of accountability on safety and overall workplace improvement.
  • Data-Driven Accountability: Learn how to collect and use data for identifying program gaps and driving accountability.
  • Building Strong Accountability Systems: Understand how data can bridge gaps between management expectations and employee performance.
  • Implementing Data-Driven Programs: Receive practical advice on using data to address specific safety issues like PPE compliance.
  • Taking Action with Data: Encouragement to implement data-driven approaches for improved safety and accountability.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

If you’re facing challenges in fostering accountability within your team, consider applying these strategies for positive change.

Implementing these tactics facilitates a shift in the perspectives of both your management team and employees. Managers gain insight into operational gaps when overlaying data with accidents, efficiency, or quality metrics, highlighting potential financial gains. For employees, it demonstrates fairness, communicates a focus on improvement rather than termination, and contributes to building positive morale.

Share your thoughts about this episode, and don’t forget to spread the insights with your safety friends to collectively enhance safety practices.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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