Special Topics in Safety Management

Setting a Safe Example

In the eyes of most of the people who work for you, you are the company—or at least their closest link to the company. Have you ever stopped to think of what sort of an image you project to your crew? Have you ever tried to see yourself as others see you?

For instance, have either you or any other member of management ever walked through an area where eye protection is mandatory without wearing safety glasses? Doing so can destroy an effective eye protection program. Workers resent safety rules being interpreted one way for management and another way for them.

The rules of mathematics do not apply to the effect of right and wrong examples. One right example does not equal one wrong example. That one wrong example, unfortunately, has far greater impact. It is noticed faster, talked about more, and remembered longer.

Supervisors work in a fish bowl. One glaring wrong can cancel the accumulated good from months and even years of correct examples. This is particularly true if that wrong example indicates a double standard, or if disciplinary action resulted from a worker’s violation of the same rule.

Check your performance against the following list of examples you should be setting every day:

  • Be sure you follow all safety rules and regulations—no exceptions, no shortcuts.
  • Wear all safety equipment and personal protective devices that are required. This will help sell the idea that wearing protective equipment is important.
  • Take all of the precautions that you expect others to take. You are no less vulnerable to an accident than those you supervise. Such compliance proves your real regard for doing every job the safe way.
  • Never order anyone to work unsafely. Don’t bypass any rule or standard operating procedure to get the job done faster or cheaper. Your example will be a sign of how you really feel.
  • Be genuinely enthusiastic about the safety program. Prompt and proper attention to items of safety reflects your positive attitude. Anything less can and will be noticed and viewed as an indication of insensitivity on your part.
  • Do not belittle the safety program. If you question the correctness of a rule, the value of some of your safety responsibilities, or any part of the safety program, discuss your questions with the proper people—your supervisors or the safety department. These people can help you to better understand the program and your role in its implementation.

Checklist for Supervisor’s Role in Safety

  • Do you consistently wear the proper protective equipment around your employees?
  • Do you stop your workers from continuing to do their jobs in an unsafe manner?
  • Do you insist that they follow proper safety procedures?
  • Do you avoid rushing them or encouraging them to take shortcuts?
  • Do you quickly fix hazardous items or conditions?
  • Do you take your employees’ safety concerns seriously?
  • Do you encourage your workers to come to you with safety concerns or solutions?
  • Do you follow the same safety procedures that you expect your employees to follow?
  • Do you always speak enthusiastically about the safety program?
  • Do you seek out advice from safety professionals?
  • Do you review your safety procedures regularly to make sure they are updated and correct?
  • Do you provide regular safety training and safety talks to your employees?