Ten Questions to Mature Executive Safety Thinking

Cultures of today are a result of practices of the past.

All progress begins by thinking differently. Today's current views regarding safety excellence should be at least partially obsolete in 10 years: how safety excellence is defined and achieved, what the goals should be, who is responsible for what, and how long it will take in time and resources. What are your executive leaders' perspectives on this? How well aligned are they?

If the executive staff isn't aligned and there is no clear and understood strategy for achieving safety excellence, can you be surprised you have so many different cultures throughout the enterprise? Much of our work focuses on maturing and aligning the thinking and subsequent strategy and execution within an organization. This often begins with helping evolve current paradigms with senior leaders, who set the tone and direction not only for the culture, but the overall business trajectory.

Consider W. Edwards Deming's warning: "Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you're getting." To operationalize that, employee behaviors are a byproduct of the systems and culture they work within, and that of their bosses all the way up the organizational hierarchy. If the leaders aren't leading advancement thinking within, don't expect the followers to follow. Cultures of today are a result of practices of the past.

When maturing thinking, it is helpful to first gather a baseline of current thoughts around four key areas: how safety excellence is defined, the strategy to achieve it, who is responsible for what, and how data is leveraged and progress measured and achieved.

 

Below are 10 questions/statements to ask to gain insight into the current perspectives. It is recommended that answers are anonymous to allow for a more truthful perspective. Results should be shared with the respondents, allowing leaders to see how their peers replied. These outcomes alone will be a great catalyst for deeper conversations.

1. How do you define safety excellence?

2. As an executive, what common things would you see or hear when visiting a location that explains how safety excellence was achieved there?

3. When great safety performance is recognized, how do you confirm, or what data supports the results were achieved due to doing the right things rather than luck or temporary improvement?

4. What does data tell you to focus on to improve both safety performance and culture?

5. What do you see as the biggest challenge to further improve both safety performance and culture?

6. Describe your current multi-year strategy for achieving and sustaining excellence in safety performance and culture.

7. How does the current safety strategy support and enable the current business strategy, and are there areas where the safety strategy conflicts with or hinders the business strategy?

8. What elements of the safety strategy should be owned by the safety function versus operations and line leadership?

9. What do you see as the priorities for your safety executive (what should they be spending their time on)?

10. What do you see as the most important safety roles and responsibilities for someone in your position?

With the answers to these questions, not only will you gain an understanding of where the current thinking is, you will also know where to focus your efforts to help mature the thinking and, subsequently, align the safety efforts to strategically improve safety performance and culture. While there are many questions available to gauge the point of view of executive leaders, start with these. With the answers you receive, you will understand why.

For a template of these questions to use this in your organization, contact the author and reference Safety Executive Safety Questions. He can be reached at 936-273-8700 or info@ProActSafety.com.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2019

    November/December 2019

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      Redefining Compliance for the Gas Detection Buyer
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Don't Trip Over the Basics
    • VISION PROTECTION
      What to Look for in Head-to-Toe PPE Solutions
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Effective PPE for Flammable Dust
    View This Issue