The term “World Class” is often used to describe an exceptional safety program.  World Class is defined, in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as being of the highest caliber in the world.  That doesn’t really fit for safety.

Safety programs can never be the best in the world – but they can be better than the average for the industry and that is generally what we mean as world class programs.  They can’t be the best because safety is a process of continuous improvement; it never stops getting better.

Another term people use is Best Business Practice – but that falls a bit short for me.

What I look for, in a World Class program, is one that not only meets the regulatory requirements, but they are raising the bar on their expectations and setting the standard by which other companies are striving to meet.  They have an intradependent culture of employees and management working together to continuously improve their operations – even if only by small amounts.

Why go for World class program – what’s in it for you?

If you are already meeting regulation and your injury frequency is relatively low, then why even try to work towards a world class program?  It seems like a lot of extra work, doesn’t it – having you do things that aren’t required; having to go above & beyond.

The biggest answer to this question is PROFIT and PRIDE.

There is More Profitability when you are World Class

Safety effects all areas of the business; it is actually the only element that does this.  When you focus on safety, everything else improves with it.  You cannot say that for operations, quality, or sales.

Therefore, companies with excellent safety cultures find they make higher profits.  This is not just due to a reduction in injuries, but it is actually through improved efficiency, labor relations, quality, and employee morale.

It is actually a really cool thing to experience. By conducting a hazard analysis for safety, you define the most efficient way to do the job.  By focusing on getting employees to follow the SOPs, you create a safer workplace, but you also reduce quality issues and increase efficiency of work.  The end result is happier customers as well as employees; this reduces turnover.

Another side effect of a stellar safety program is increased sales.  When customers visit your facility, they see your attention to detail and efficiency; making them want to do business with you.  When the quality of your output increases, your sales will increase.  When your operations is running like a well oiled machine, your profits grow.

All of this by starting and focusing on safety.

There is More Profitability when you are World Class

Safety effects all areas of the business; it is actually the only element that does this.  When you focus on safety, everything else improves with it.  You cannot say that for operations, quality, or sales.

Therefore, companies with excellent safety cultures find they make higher profits.  This is not just due to a reduction in injuries, but it is actually through improved efficiency, labor relations, quality, and employee morale.

It is actually a really cool thing to experience. By conducting a hazard analysis for safety, you define the most efficient way to do the job.  By focusing on getting employees to follow the SOPs, you create a safer workplace, but you also reduce quality issues and increase efficiency of work.  The end result is happier customers as well as employees; this reduces turnover.

Another side effect of a stellar safety program is increased sales.  When customers visit your facility, they see your attention to detail and efficiency; making them want to do business with you.  When the quality of your output increases, your sales will increase.  When your operations is running like a well oiled machine, your profits grow.

All of this by starting and focusing on safety.

Personally, I’m about the People

You might read this and think that I am putting too much focus on profit than the people.  I am a true “safety first” kind of person.  It is a personal core value and I care more about helping people and saving lives than profit.

But I also live in a capitalist society.  I understand that most business motivations lie with their stakeholders and not their employees.  For me to achieve my goals (helping people and saving lives), I need to get the stakeholders on my side.  I need to sell them on what safety can do for them, and that is more PROFIT.

Motivation through Pride

It has been found in research study after research study that humans are not motivated by money.  Not that money and salary are not a part of it, but for complex tasks – such as safety – money is not a motivator.  This truth puts a wrench in most safety incentive programs.

What motivates people is Autonomy, Purpose, and Pride.

When you have an operation that is at the level of a world class safety program, you (and the team) will have immense pride in the work you are doing.  You will be the leader that others look towards when they need help.   

Pride in your program is what keeps it going strong. Employees feel pride in what they are doing and will continue to work safely. Pride also drives the motivation for continuous improvement.  Once you are seen as one of the best, you want to stay on that pedestal.

Not to mention, that safe workplaces are also the most enjoyable to work at. 

Motivation through Pride

It has been found in research study after research study that humans are not motivated by money.  Not that money and salary are not a part of it, but for complex tasks – such as safety – money is not a motivator.  This truth puts a wrench in most safety incentive programs.

What motivates people is Autonomy, Purpose, and Pride.

When you have an operation that is at the level of a world class safety program, you (and the team) will have immense pride in the work you are doing.  You will be the leader that others look towards when they need help.   

Pride in your program is what keeps it going strong. Employees feel pride in what they are doing and will continue to work safely. Pride also drives the motivation for continuous improvement.  Once you are seen as one of the best, you want to stay on that pedestal.

Not to mention, that safe workplaces are also the most enjoyable to work at. 

Are you Happy with a C Grade?

If you are only meeting what the regulations require you to do, that is about a C grade (if we were in school).  Regulations are not about being the best and doing more than you have to.  They are about doing the bare minimum needed to keep deaths and injuries low. 

I don’t know about you – but if my kids came home with a C, I would not be happy.

Following best business practice models can get you up to a B grade.  They are great and a good start, but they are not the same as the BEST.

When all the low hanging fruit is gone, you have your basics in place and incident rates are relatively low.  This is when you can start focusing on World Class and that A or A+ grade.  This is when you put effort into making incremental changes to get better and improve.  We are talking major baby steps to get there.

Are you Happy with a C Grade?

If you are only meeting what the regulations require you to do, that is about a C grade (if we were in school).  Regulations are not about being the best and doing more than you have to.  They are about doing the bare minimum needed to keep deaths and injuries low. 

I don’t know about you – but if my kids came home with a C, I would not be happy.

Following best business practice models can get you up to a B grade.  They are great and a good start, but they are not the same as the BEST.

When all the low hanging fruit is gone, you have your basics in place and incident rates are relatively low.  This is when you can start focusing on World Class and that A or A+ grade.  This is when you put effort into making incremental changes to get better and improve.  We are talking major baby steps to get there.

Certifications and Recognition

There are two “gold standard” safety program certifications to strive for.  Calling them certifications is a stretch, they are more like evaluations.

The Voluntary Protection Program is available in the United States through OSHA and the Department of Labor.  Acceptance into their program exempts you from random inspections and signifies that you have a safety program that is above and beyond what is required.

ISO 45001 (International Organization for Standardization) is a relatively new designation, but the ISO program as a whole has been around for a long time and is recognized by the world as meaning the company has programs and processes in place better than standard.

Being a part of these programs can improve sales and relations for your organization.  It sets the tone for how your company does business.  If you have one of these certifications, it is expected that everything else (sales, operations, quality) is top-notch, as well.

Now it’s your turn

What do you think, I want to know?  Leave a comment below and tell me if you are VPP or ISO certified and how it helped your organization.  If you’re not part of these programs, what grade would you give your current safety program?

Hi, I’m Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  I train and coach new safety managers on how to effectively do their jobs in the real world.  I specialize in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture.  I would love to help you do the same.

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