The area of safety has never quite become an equal with productivity, quality and cost in most organizations. Regardless of the talk about safety being "number one" or an equal to other business functions, it is a rare organization that truly walks the safety talk. There are a number of possible reasons for this situation but, regardless of the reasons, safety can become an equal with the other business factors if we approach safety as a business and become a partner in the enterprise. This means we need to run our safety programs with the same financial and managerial requirements of all other segments of the business.
As I travel around the country, the main complaint I hear from safety professionals, both those with limited experience and the seasoned veterans, is that they can't seem to get management to understand what it takes to prevent injuries and have an effective safety program. They just feel the job is overwhelming and, without management support, nothing can be accomplished and they can't seem to get the support they need. They are frustrated by the fact that production seems to always receive the highest priority and that safety is often relegated to an afterthought. These comments are interesting and supported somewhat by the interviews I take when I'm working with an organization. During those interviews I always ask what is most important to your organization. - Production, Quality, Cost Control or Safety. The answers are usually different depending on the work group. If I ask this question of the employees, supervisors or the safety professional, the answer is usually production. Almost all feel the most important priority management has is productivity and, by default, that makes production their number one priority. If I ask the same question of upper management they will usually say something like this .. control are all very important to the success of our organization but if we do not provide a safe and healthful workplace, none of the other things will happen". Part of that statement can be attributed to their knowing what I'm in their facility to do, but in time, I have come to believe that safety is a high priority for upper management. Interesting how two work groups working for the same company come up with completely different priorities? Actually, the answers are very logical, given the way companies measure success.