What's Motivating Us?

Often, much of a company's energy and resources related to safety, health and environmental performance, go into lowering rates to meet corporate or site objectives, being in compliance with Osha or EPA regulations and procedures, avoiding potential liabilities, reducing related costs, worker compensation claims, etc. Having a ‘good record’ has its' reward and pay off for many. Many companies have as their objective to make incremental improvements in S, H & E performance given their belief that their efforts in these areas will add to their overall stability by lessoning downtime and thus adding to productivity. There are leaders though, that have never made the connection that insuring safe operations can lead to improvements in other areas. We believe from our 20 years in S, H & E improvement that an effective safety initiative not only prevents incidents but adds to overall productivity as well. Since 9-11 and the downturn in the economy and the subsequent tightening of the corporate "belt", being able to substantiate this spill over effect is often necessary in selling the value of investing in an improvement process to top management. The ROI, (return on investment) must be clear to all. In the domain of safety, health, and the environment, value may be measured qualitatively (in terms of preventing human suffering and loss in the quality of life) and quantitatively (in terms of preventing loss in dollars from the direct and indirect costs of incidents, fines, etc, trained employees to do the jobs, valuable equipment, and so on.)

Simply put, overall productivity can be affected by going through any one of a number of windows, be it safety, production, or quality to name a few. Going through the window of safety will have a side benefit of demonstrating a level of concern for employees and private citizens. As a generalization, when people experience being cared about, most will give back their all. When they don't, they won't! Performance can be affected at very subtle levels from conscious or unconscious attitudes and beliefs. The operating principle may become, "if they don't care about me, why should I care about them?" This attitude can adversely influence results in all areas, whether safety, health, the environment, production, quality, or efficiency.

Whatever your motivating factor for improvement may be, many of you have worked long and hard to gain the commitment and support of both line and management employees, and have achieved improvements. After many hours conducting worksite analyses, auditing, implementing programs and procedures, and ensuring that hazard prevention measures and controls are in place, you have accomplished a great deal.

This is often where the challenge comes in to convince ourselves and others to continue with our improvement processes, as well as, implement new programs or processes that can take us to the next level of performance.

What can happen if we accept that where we are as good enough is to overtly or covertly send the message that there is an acceptable number of injuries.

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