Labor day is the perfect weekend to head to the lake one last time before summer ends, spend the day watching the return of football or to have extra time with the family on your day off. However, it is important to not forget what this holiday represents and to take some time to appreciate the American Workforce.
A Moment of Reflection for Labor Day
We have come a long way from the pre-OSHA workplaces but there is still much work to do. Every 7 seconds someone is injured on the job and the reality is that just about every single one of those injuries was preventable. No matter where you work; building skyscrapers, drilling oil wells or writing safety blogs the truth is that safety should always be on your mind. Just because there isn’t a safety incident in your organization everyday does not mean that the risk isn’t constant. The National Safety Council published a survey that found that one third of U.S. workers felt that productivity was prioritized over safety. While in today’s society meeting deadlines and exceeding projections is the norm, it should not come at the cost of safety – particularly when workplace deaths and injuries are completely preventable.
Almost two thirds (62%) of workers in high-risk industries believe that the corporate level does only the bare minimum required by law when designing safety programs. When employees think that the top level doesn’t show a prioritization for safety, no one else all the way down the company hierarchy takes it seriously.
The Expert of Top-Down Safety.
A few weeks ago I interviewed a well respected Safety Director with 40+ years of experience in the biochemical industry and he described the key to safety success. After spending 34 years at one organization he made the transition to a new company that was in need of a safety overhaul. He explained to me his initial steps upon arriving at the new company and what surprised me was that it did not start with putting up new posters or holding more training for the floor workers. Rather, it began in the boardroom, the offices of the C-level executives and the management team. He emphasized the importance of his first months spent obtaining active commitment from the top tier individuals. He was then able to remove the “safety police” stigma, take a step back and focus on connecting management with the workers. He then changed his team’s strategies from focusing on safety violations to rewarding proactive safe practices. When the employees began to see management taking the time to involve themselves in safety, they began to change the ways the worked. He recalled addressing his EH&S team for the first time: “it is our goal as a safety team to be put out of a job” and though organizations will always need safety management teams, it is important to remember the end goal of zero workplace injuries.
We all have aspects in life that we know we could improve on. Take a look at your organization, is everyone taking a proactive approach to safety? Does everyone realize how important it is? Remember, safety isn’t lowering your incident rates or having the proper records stored for five years. Safety is saving human lives. Safety is making sure every employee returns home in the same good health they came to work in.
Putting Your Labor Day Reflection to Practice.
As we all return to work this week after the long weekend, think about those safety concerns that surround your workplace. It could be the little things that you may have overlooked like a loose screw in your office chair, a frayed wire that has been there since before you were hired or that archaic packet of safety forms that hasn’t been organized since OSHA was formed in 1971. When it comes to safety it is important to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
However you chose to spend your day off, Sospes would like to wish you a Happy Labor Day and to remind you to always think Sospes.
m, n (genitive sospitis); third declension
- saving, delivering
- safe and sound, unharmed