When a safety problem comes up, too many times the first move is to go to the safety regulations for an answer. This is the wrong approach.
Having a strong understanding of the regulations will give any safety manager a better foundation to build their career on. Same for any company – meet the regulations and you have a good starting point.
But this is actually the worst place to start.
There are 2 specific reasons why your focus shouldn’t be on the safety regulations.
SAFETY REGULATIONS ARE A C GRADE
When safety regulations are written they start off with the best intentions; to eliminate fatalities and injuries. But through the approval process compromises and changes happen, resulting in a watered down version of the original intention.
Safety regulations end up being a bare minimum to follow. They are an equivalent of a C grade in school.
So, should you really be focusing on getting a “C” when your employee’s health and wellness is on the line?
WHERE TO GET THE ANSWERS, BESIDES THE SAFETY REGULATIONS
When a hazard comes along, don’t go to the reg book. Instead, look to what the best safety programs out there are doing fix the same problem. We call these best practices; look to what is working for others and do the same.
Next, talk to your workers, supervisors, and managers. When you shine a light on the hazard you’ve identified, they’re the ones who are closest to it and will be most affected by the corrective action.
Change your focus from “What do the safety regulations say?” to “What is the best way to protect my workers, to stop this from happening again?”
These questions will get you a solution that not only meets the safety regulations but goes beyond them.
BIGGER ISSUES THAN OSHA
In The Safety Geek Free Course, it goes into the statistics and risks of OSHA coming on site and doing an inspection, as well as the chances of you actually ever getting an OSHA fine.
When you are creating your safety programs, conducting your safety inspections, and training your employees, your first concern should be lawsuits.
The risk of a lawsuit is higher than the risk of OSHA.
The cost of a lawsuit is way higher than an OSHA fine.
Look at your safety program and any safety hazards with the mindset of – if you don’t fix the issue, the lawyers are going to have a field day.
THIRD PARTY AUDITS CAN BE DISCOVERABLE DOCUMENTS
Second to lawyers and lawsuits are third party audits. If protections are not in place on how they are conducted and the way results are given, they can be discoverable documents. This could cost the company a ton of money if they were ever in a lawsuit.
PRIORITIZE YOUR SAFETY HAZARDS
After conducting a hazard assessment or whenever a new hazard is identified, prioritize the importance of what to work on. The order should consider the following:
- What is important to your workers is what you fix first.
- What is important to your management team.
- What is posing the greatest risk.
- How many people are affected by the hazard.
Keep in mind, if you have a known hazard that is affecting a large group of workers and you aren’t taking actions to fix it, you’re increasing the chances for a lawsuit.
GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
There’s always the risk of someone suing you over something, that is why it should be one of your biggest concerns.
But, putting that safety regulations book away and going to your people to ask them what the biggest hazard they’re exposed to are, will reduce your chances of legal issues while increasing your safety compliance and moving your program forward.
It’s time to put that safety regulations book away. Anytime you have that gut feeling to say “What do the regs say?” Take a step back and instead, start with your workers first.
Look around your facility and start asking yourself and the employees what the biggest hazard is and how do they suggest they get fixed for good.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Comment below and tell me what you think. Are you a walking regulation dictionary and wouldn’t have it any other way or are you more likely to listen to your people first.
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.