The Eight Ps of Safety

We must ensure that a safety mindset is inherent in every activity.

Philosophy: The leader of any organization is the safety officer, the head of the organization. Managers and supervisors are safety officers for their respective units and are directly responsible for protecting the resources entrusted to them. Safety must be the core value. However, the predicament is how to effect a value system among individuals—each having his or her own that may already be set in stone. We must realize that not all of our beliefs are the same beliefs others hold. Each of us sees the world differently, and we cannot expect to believe that all will respond the same.

Protect: Line officers at all levels must be accountable for protecting personnel, equipment, property, and facilities under their control. To make sure all requirements are met, coordinate among agencies, units, and the people within the organization to make a concerted effort to proliferate useful and constructive safety measures in all activities.

Preventative: For an organization, maintaining a safe and healthful workplace, as well as implementing a functional accident prevention program, are mandated by law. We must ensure that all personnel observe appropriate safety and occupational health laws and regulations and that a safety mindset is inherent in every activity.

Partnership: Having a safe and healthful community and workplace involves many programs, policies, procedures, and people. It is not a limited, short engagement, but a continual process that must be modified judiciously and regularly to be effective.

First things first: The boss needs to be the number one player. The boss, as the safety officer, needs to continually support safety, procedurally and fiscally. Employees should visit with supervisors (regularly) and get to know their strategies for safety and, conversely, keep them abreast of trends and other key safety-related information. Knowing how the boss thinks and acts when it comes to the welfare of the persons within the organization is imperative.

Participatory: We are each obliged to be accountable for our own safety, but everyone has a duty to protect others. Leaders, managers, employees, family members, guests, and the community at large all rely on safety manager/specialist expertise in providing sound safety practices with equitable implementation. However, it cannot be done alone; everyone must share in the responsibility for others.

Professional:We all must be technically competent to perform our jobs in the safest manner possible. However, the proper tools must be made available and properly used. These include appropriate training, adequate personal protective equipment, and most importantly, the wherewithal to identify hazards and the associated risks.

Proactive: People need to know that there is a safety program. Being proactive in advertising and publicizing our safety programs is essential. Use every means available—such as newspapers, periodicals, audio/visual media, Web sites, newsletters, bulletin boards, town hall meetings, councils, and safety or community fairs—to make proactive safety visible.

Everyone must get connected and become active participants in the safety program, visible and credible. It is imperative to know the people within the organization and let them get to know us.

Respect for authority must be advocated by enforcing the policies fairly and equitably while expecting people to adhere to the rules. Excellence must be rewarded and support of award programs that recognize the right behaviors advocated.

Walk the walk, talk the talk—the worst thing in the world is not to adhere to the organization’s policies. Once a rule is broken, the standard has changed. Everyone must strive to teach the right behaviors the right way the first time. It is difficult to unlearn after the fact.

Everyone must learn to recognize hazards and the risks associated with them. Foremost, however, is the requirement to take steps to correct the situation; never wait until it is too late.

Priority: People, by our very nature, want a safe and healthful setting. Often, the problem is that we don’t know how or haven’t got the tools to ensure we maintain the right environment. Getting everyone involved, listening to the safety issues and taking action, ensuring that managers and employees are committed to supporting safety at all levels, holding all personnel accountable for their actions, and making safety part of every process will help keep safety the priority.

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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