In the past three months, more people than ever think safety is important — even Jimmy, who never wore his safety glasses when the boss wasn’t looking and once proclaimed “I am way too smart to get hurt” (a statement that instantly invalidates itself). Jimmy’s now talking about PPE and without warning spraying hand sanitizer on other people’s hands!
Although this heightened awareness of safety seems beneficial for getting people to buy into a safety culture, we have to wonder if this will improve things long term. In the spirit of safety month (yes, safety has its own month), here are three things that should take us beyond COVID‑19 and into a world with a new belief in the importance of safety.
1. Safety can be rolled out quickly and effectively. The time of COVID has proven that it does not take a year to build a sustainable safety culture (and that sometimes impatience is a virtue).
2. Direct/frontline supervisor buy-in is the absolute key to a daily, boots-on-the-ground safety culture. If frontline leaders have employee engagement skills, then your safety program will stick! If you want your culture to be sticky, you have to spread it through the right people (okay, I could have worded that differently).
3. Safety is part of who we are — survivors. The human race (and even Jimmy) has the ability to adapt, and we have seen how being set in our ways leads to failure. In short, complacency breeds arrogance: when you stop getting better, you start screwing up!
As we cautiously (and I’m using the word “cautiously” cautiously) move into the post-COVID world, we come out much safer than we went in! Equally as important, we emerge with a new mission to finally see safety as something we all believe is a core value that individuals (and organizations) can make happen every day.