Any company in operation today assumes a certain amount of risk, and that is the first question any safety manager asks. Whether it’s a trucking or office supply company, there is always some amount of danger involved. Now clearly, driving a truck has a lot more inherent risk than selling pencils. Even so, one goal every company should have is to ensure employee safety. Safety in many companies can look like an OSHA poster on a wall or a monthly safety video. Some companies take more proactive steps to prevent accidents and other dangers by utilizing safety technologies and more intensive educational safety programs. But safety is more than posters, online courses, and gizmos on the vehicle. These are just little pieces to an overall puzzle that’s your safety culture.
Where Does Safety Start?
Where does safety start? Does it start with the safety manager, or with new employees making a vow to be safe? Does it start with OSHA? Well, the short answer is no. Safety undoubtedly starts at the top. The people leading the organization are the ones most responsible for its safety. It’s simple. The decisions that presidents, CEO’s and CFO’s make determine how safe a company will be. These are the people who decide how much safety is worth to the company. This can look like a security system in the office, fire drills and informative literature on how to handle common dangerous situations. A transportation company’s leadership team might invest in driver training, safety technologies and appropriate selection procedures to ensure the hiring of safe drivers.
Safety is Not Just a Poster
Professional driving is a risky business. A company must ingrain safety into its culture to truly reduce the greatest amount of risk. Culture includes the norms, rituals, shared beliefs and values of the organization. Once established, culture is very difficult to change. If safety isn’t initially an area of focus, then it usually later falls to HR, a safety or risk manager to deal with. For some companies, that might be okay. For others who every day assume a great amount of risk, it’s not enough.
It Starts at the Top
What many company leaders may not know or undervalue is how much is modeled after their behavior and attitude. If a leadership team doesn’t really buy into a new safety initiative, then their direct subordinates won’t either. This will fall down the chain until it gets to the front-line employees. Even if a CEO agrees to invest more resources in a safety program and signs a few checks, it’s not enough. If the CEO doesn’t follow up or isn’t interested in its effects, the program won’t be as impactful as it could be. You have to show and live out those safe behaviors until they catch on.
Follow the Leader
Employees want to know that what they’re doing matters and that their company cares about them. They follow the lead of their supervisors. This is why investing in making your drivers safety is so important. Once there is leadership buy-in there will be company-wide buy in and employees will feel like they are important to the company. This will result in employees putting more effort into their work. At this point, a company will truly be able to improve its safety practices, reduce risk and increase the safety of its employees as well as the general public’s.
Safety is More Than Just a Word
It’s more than just a poster on a wall or a monthly video. Safety, by definition, is freedom from risk and it’s something every company should focus on. While some companies don’t have as much to worry about as others, the point remains that to be a safe company and have a safety culture, everything needs to start at the top. The leadership team needs to head the charge and prove its commitment to safety and all its initiatives. Invest in safe, happy drivers with a professional driving program that instills safe driving behaviors and reduces risk. Start being a safer company.