Special Topics in Safety Management

Safety and Business Goals: Mutually Exclusive or Complementary?

Are safety goals and business goals mutually exclusive? Your CEO may think so, but you know better.

Safety goals and business goals may not always seem to be aligned. For example, safety goals might include:

  • Reduce injuries by 10 percent annually
  • Increase safety meeting attendance to 100 percent
  • Near-miss reporting 2 reports per worker annually

Whereas business goals might include:

  • Increase profits by 10 percent annually
  • Increase sales by 15 percent annually
  • Maintain headcount to previous years’ count
  • Improve productivity by 5 percent annually
  • Increase customer service with on-time deliveries 95 percent of the time

With these goals apparently going in such different directions, can they ever really align?

In a BLR webinar entitled “Safety and the CEO: How To Get Their Attention, Respect, and Support,” Wayne Vanderhoof, CSP, president of RJR Safety, Inc. (www.rjsafety.com) and a safety professional with more than 20 years of experience, outlined the answer to this by explaining how safety can support business goals.

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When you think about it more closely, says Vanderhoof you can see how these two lists can be combined to come into alignment. For example:

  • ncrease profits by 10 percent annually and reduce injuries by 10 percent annually can go together because injury reduction can protect profits. Reducing the number of injured workers means you can reduce hiring and training costs.
  • Improved morale leads to lower turnover.
  • Improving productivity by 5 percent annually can be affected by safety (read tomorrow’s Advisor to find out more about the interaction), so it makes sense to incorporate safety analysis into production improvements.
  • Increasing customer service with on-time deliveries to 95 percent can also be impacted by safety because accidents and injuries can interfere with production schedules and delay deliveries.

Can Improving Safety Improve Quality?

One of the most important business goals of any organization is to maintain and improve quality standards. So it’s important to realize that quality improvements can actually result from safety improvements.

This is because fewer injuries means more consistency in products and services. Trained and experienced employees are more likely to perform tasks consistently to the same standard all the time, whereas replacements for injured workers may be less consistent. The new or temporary workers are often less knowledgeable about the job and therefore less able to produce quality work.

Here’s another factor affecting quality: Co-workers of injured employees may be fatigued due to overtime demands to make up for absent employees. This can cause inconsistencies and lower quality performance. On top of that, employees who have to fill in for injured workers could have a bad attitude brought on by the “forced” overtime or fill-in responsibilities. And you know what a bad attitude can do to quality standards!

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Here’s another example of how safety can affect quality. A company with a bad reputation for safety may be unable to attract high-quality, skilled workers. And that can affect the quality of the company’s products and services.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how improving safety can improve productivity.


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