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Getting Top Management Commitment

It is essential to the success of your company's safety and health program that top management demonstrate not only an interest, but a long term serious commitment to protect every employee from injury and illness on the job. But, if you think you don't have that level of commitment, how do you get it? Real commitment doesn't just appear out of thin air. What is the secret?

Management commitment to safety will occur to the extent they clearly understand the positive benefits derived from the effort. Understanding the benefits will create a strong desire to improve the company's safety culture. Managers will invest serious time and money into effective safety management by developing what I call the "6-Ps": programs, policies>, written plans, processes, procedures, and practices. They will also display leadership through effective accountability and recognition of behaviors and results.

Employers are motivated to "do" safety (a behavior) for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To fulfill the legal imperative. At this level, the primary goal is to fulfill the obligation to comply with OSHA rules. To stay out of trouble. Do only what has to be done to meet minimum requirements. Safety is not a priority or value.

  • To fulfill the fiscal imperative. Employers who are motivated to do safety understand the financial benefits derived from effective application of safety systems. The primary reason for "doing safety" shifts to maximizing profits. The goal is to fulfill the obligation to stakeholders to operate the business in a fiscally prudent manner. The employer will do whatever needs to be done reactively and proactively to save on direct and indirect costs of accidents. The employer will likely go beyond minimum legal requirements if needed. Safety is most likely a high priority...However, it may be subject to rapid change when the going gets tough.

  • To fulfill the social imperative. Employers who, for whatever reason, have come to the realization that long-term corporate survival depends on more than maximizing short-term profits, will value and tap into the incredible creative potential of each employee, from janitor to president. Managers appreciate the inherent value of each employee, not just as a worker, but as a corporate "family" member. They also realize and value the roles their employees fulfill away from work, in the community, as mothers, fathers, coaches, helpers, etc. Employers strive to fulfill their obligation to each employee, local community, and general society to support and protect the welfare of all employees. Safety is perceived as a core corporate value that does not change when the going gets tough.

Source: Steve Geigle, OSHAcademy

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