IS IT SAFETY COMPLIANCE OR SAFETY CULTURE?
I am going to continue the thought process from last month’s newsletter in the article titled “Risk Analysis, Compliance, and Developing a Culture of Safety”.
When you are driving, do you consciously think “am I complying with all of the traffic regulations’? Or, do you drive the way you do because that is the way that you were trained so long ago and believe the way to keep from becoming involved in a vehicle accident is to drive following established procedures to include staying on your side of the double yellow line?
As you are working, do you consciously think “am I complying with all the safety procedures”? Or, do you just work doing what you are trained to do, following the established work procedures because you believe they are the safest and most efficient way to do the task?
Is it peer-pressure that causes us to stay on our side of the double yellow line or is it the culture of driving meaning it is just the way that we do it?
As adults, we do not like to just comply with rules and regulations just for the sake of compliance. We want to know why we must do things in a specific way. Then we can determine for ourselves if that “specific way” is the way we want to do the task or not.
As Safety Professionals, we need to give workers the tools to make the determination as the best way to do the task. One set of tools that would be very useful to workers are hazard identification, risk assessment, risk analysis, and an understanding of implementing elimination and/or control measures per the risk analysis. We do this already with the driving scenario and most drivers don’t even know they are doing it. It is just the way we drive. This is how we need to think as workers, this is just the way we work.
When workers understand and apply hazard identification, risk assessment, risk analysis, and an implement the appropriate elimination and/or control measures as part of their task, not as an add-on, not as an extra step, but as part of the process of planning and performing the task, this becomes just the way it is done. It becomes part of the culture of the company. It becomes part of the thought process and guides their actions and behaviors.
This will take initial training, a significant amount of coaching over an extended period of time, and an ongoing effort of encouragement and support from coworkers, Supervisors, Managers and Executives.
The safety profession is moving from one of compliance to a risk-based system. A fellow Safety Professional has authored an article in the ASSE Professional Safety Journal titled “Moving from Compliance to Risk-Based Systems, Five Tips to Help OSH Professionals Make the Big Switch” (link: http://www.asse.org/assets/1/7/BP_1116.pdf ).
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) also has an entire institute focusing on risk as well as a certificate program for Safety Professionals to attain a certificate in Risk Assessment. It is a 40-hour program which includes classroom training, webinars, and the completion of a final project. The program can be completed within two years and awards 4.0 CEUs. More information is available at www.asse.org/cra .
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