I am wondering how many of you work for a company that states "Safety is #1" or "Safety is our TOP priority", etc. After 10 years in industry as a safety professional I had the great honor of working for two of the best plant managers walking the face of this earth and working for two of the worst human beings that have filled the role of "plant manager". I have no doubt that the two best were dedicated to making safety RIGHT; but they taught me a very valuable lesson in that EHS should be EQUAL to production, quality, and costs. Making either of these #1, just causes everyone to jump from ship to ship so to speak. Having been a consultant this past year, I have been amaazed at the number of companies I work with that have banners everywhere stating "Safety is #1", eyt when you talk with employees they provide you with sound examples of how they perceive that to be a lie. Heck I should know, I was one of those employees in a couple of my roles, and if you can't convience your safety leader, then you sure are not going to have much luck with the workforce he/she has been hired to protect.
Just to expand on that earlier post. I work in a large area of work that encompasses Industrial, Commercial and Line Work. Electrical safety, should, by all rights, be universal to any discipline, no matter what you are doing. Shouldn't it??.
Do they still post "THINK" signs in machine shops and other worksites where you have to be careful with the equipment to avoid injury?
One shop manager we had said to us engineers "You had ten fingers when you walked in here, don't leave any behind" or "Be sure to keep them on your hands" or "I want to see all ten fingers where they belong when you are finished and leave."
Too many time the empty safety slogans are there only to duck a law suit or OSHA fine. Just ask the employees "What happens if you refuse to perform a task for safety reasons?" In far too many cases if the are not fired then and there they soon will be laid off or downsized without anything said about the safety issue. Most employees know this in companies were safety slogans abound.
Thanks for the question. This is a subject that has bothered me for a while. So much so, I placed this short article in our local construction organization safety newsletter. If you asked your employees how many had heard the term “Safety First” within our organizations, most if not all would probably raise their hands. Then ask if safety really is first when it comes to work in the field, most hands would drop. Everyone knows profits are what makes the world go round and the doors to our lobbies stay open. Profits are ingrained in all operational aspects of most successful businesses. Placing “Safety First” on a poster and telling everyone “this is the philosophy our organization lives by” puts safety in direct competition with the true goal of business. We never hear “Profits First” because everyone knows that is what we all come to work for. Now let me ask you this question. Does a once a week safety inspection from the safety geek make a safe job site? It may make the physical site safer, but what about the 200 workers on the site who can change it in seconds after the safety person leaves. Safety is not the safety guy’s job alone. A token safety person can not make our projects safe. Safety encompasses EVERY laborer, carpenter, foreman, superintendent, intern, PE, PM, estimator, welder, mechanic, electrician, plumber, roofer, etc. Safety is preservation of assets to our VP’s, presidents, CEOs and owners. Our assets are our people, facilities and equipment and without them we cease to exist. Safety has to be at par with budget, schedule and quality. Take away any one of these four essential aspects of a successful business and the whole organization pays. The absence of accidents does not imply the presence of safety. Nor do accidents imply the non-existence of safety. A goal of zero accidents may be a nice result, but a real goal is getting all of us to realize how much safety really encompasses each and every aspect of all our individual jobs. Exhibiting safe behaviors, allocating safety resources and including safety in each function and role every employee fills will go a long way in preserving our resources and increasing our profits. If we all work at controlling safety as well as we control the budget, schedule and quality of our projects we are way out in front of the competition.