Many organizations have safety programs where the top executives say they are committed to safety, but, the safety manager struggles with their support. What does true management commitment look like?
This is something that I think a lot of management teams struggle with. They want to support safety, but they don’t understand how actually to do it. They don’t know what it looks like. They don’t know what to do.
SO LET’S GIVE THEM SOME HELP
I believe that learning how to support the safety program comes in stages. You can’t expect someone who doesn’t even know the safety regulations they should be promoting to all of a sudden be the fully engaged managers.
STAGE ONE: MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT FOR SAFETY
They understand that safety programs can help them save money on claims and accidents. They get that it is a cost of doing business.
This is where they start seeing the value in the safety program. This is where you really have to sell them on safety. See the article about ways to make a case for your safety initiative.
To get them to the next stage, you have to show them the value of doing it the safe way, the right way.
STAGE TWO: THEY ARE TAKING ACTION
At this stage, they lose their questioning about safety. They stop asking for you to prove you know what you are talking about and showing them the regulation.
They start taking action when a safety issue is brought to their attention.
Most of the time, at this stage, it is going to be the safety manager bringing it to their attention, but at least action is being taken.
This stage will require you to come up with the solution. To tell them what action to take.
Training them on safety regulations is useful within this stage. A 30-hour OSHA course would be helpful to move them forward.
Once employees see that action is happening them, the number of reported issue will increase, and it will be coming from more than just you. Your employee culture is shifting.
STAGE THREE: MANAGEMENT IS THE FACE OF SAFETY
This is when the management team starts taking action to the point that they are the ones implementing, training, and enforcing safety. The safety manager is now the Coach of the Coaches and the subject matter expert.
Your expectations change, and you start handing off responsibility. It is no longer The Safety Manager Show, it is a team effort.
At every level, they actively talk about safety and involve the safety manager in their operations.
They participate in safety initiatives.
They provide input on safety projects.
This stage is hardest on the Safety Manager. Some fear they may lose their jobs or that they are no longer needed.
This is simply not true. In fact, you are freed up to focus more on the culture.
On the Bradley curve, this is a shift to an independent safety culture.
THE LAST STAGE OF MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT IS THE SWEET SPOT
This stage is where everyone finally, “Gets it.” They are fully engaged in safety. They understand that putting people and community first is the best and most profitable way to run their business.
Safety has a seat at the table. They are included in all projects and initiatives of the organization.
Working safely is just the way they do business, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Many times the management team takes
It is even better when you see how involved the employees get at this stage.
This is an interdependent culture.
HOW TO MOVE YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM THROUGH THE STAGES
The easiest way to get your management team from “safety is a cost of business” to “safety is how we do business” is by setting expectations and slowing expecting more.
You start with selling them on safety. Them move on to training them. Next expecting them to train their people.
Soon you will be handing off the mic at the company meeting for the President to give the safety speech.
It is really enjoyable to watch this transition.
We just went through the four stages of management commitment. This is only one element in the
Safety Program Self Assessment. Be sure to download yours today.
Take a few minutes to think about where your management team is in the process. What are the steps you can take to move them to the next level? Start taking action this week.
Remember, it is a slow transition. Each stage will take time.
Now It’s Your Turn
Management commitment to safety is the biggest issue I hear safety managers complaining about. If only we can solve this one thing, everything else would be more straightforward. So comment below, where are you at in the process? How committed is your management team?
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.