In researching for our book on safety culture, I have gone back to various books and articles from a number of sources. A wide array of different concepts and ideas have been identified that might be of benefit to those that are trying to develop an effective safety culture. I came across “Principles of Leadership” that have been used by the U.S. Military and thought these would be good to share. I have them on a leadership card I received many years ago. As a note, a web search found that the principles have been widely published!
Why are these important to the development of a Safety Culture? How do they impact on the development of a Job Hazard Analysis Process? Without a strong foundation in core principles, the development of an effective safety culture will be limited or erratic at best. Having a foundation provides a way to work through issues where human fallibility may take us in an unintended direction. In addition, as you review the list, reflect on how each impacts on how jobs are designed, hazards understood, and tasks and personnel are supervised.
1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. Do you know what your weaknesses are? Do you know what your strengths are? Do you need improvement in the basic skills of writing, speaking, developing clear and logical presentations, basic computer skills, etc.? Do you know basic management principles and understand the statistical, financial or accounting methodology needed to better present an analysis? Note that these are not specific technical areas but are universal in their application to all professions. Do you have a plan for overall personal improvement?
2 Be technically and tactically proficient. Do you know your craft? Are you current and up to date on what is happening in your field? Can you do a risk assessment and hazard identification? Can you develop the controls and processes needed to reduce the potential for loss? Technology and information flow have gone logarithmic far beyond our expectations. It is essential that you maintain a learning and ever improving mindset. If not, the rest of your organization could leave you in the dust. Tactically, what are you doing to improve your image and how people see you? Are you the person that people come to to help solve problems? Or are you the problem bringer?
3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Taking responsibility requires a depth of integrity and character. If programs are not deployed properly, the issue is to determine what went wrong, and not place blame on others if the responsibility was truly yours.
4, Make sound and timely decisions. When it comes to managing risk and reducing hazards, decision-making is critical. At issue is how to present observations and data with regards to hazards and risk in a manner that is balanced, clearly stating the issue providing management with a solid of plan of action and solutions. This an area that must not be taken lightly as issues can quickly escalate, hit the internet and go viral!
5. Set the Example. How may times have you seen a safety program gutted by managers or supervisors that bypass the safety rules, going into an area without proper safety equipment, walking by an obvious hazard, etc. Their actions were rapidly transmitted through the workforce. Safety was degraded by there actions. What example are you setting?
6. Know your personnel and look out for their well-being. This is what we're about. This is safety. Assuring that training is effective and that your efforts do not waste the time of others and is essential in looking out for their well-being. Quickly addressing poor safety habits or violations is looking out for there best interest.
7. Keep your personnel informed. It is essential that you keep your personnel informed and that all communications are two way, consistent and clear. In studying various case studies of catastrophes, one can find where critical communications were misunderstood or unclear that allowed for poor decision-making.
8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your personnel. This is something for all of us to work to achieve. The responsibility of safety is not just the safety manager. It is essential that a sense of responsibility is ingrained in all personnel from day one of employment that their safety and the safety of others is a personal responsibility. Allowing others to take risk is a lack of true understanding of responsibility. Your communications must be consistent and constant on this principle.
9. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. In too many cases, we still find tasks that have not been reviewed, analyzed in some fashion and simply being done “because that’s how we’ve always done it.” Do I need to suggest being technically proficient in doing the JHA? What about supervision? Do they know what is required and have the skills needed to supervise the task?
10. Train your personnel as a team. True training that is effective, targeted and ongoing is essential. It is critical to the success of the safety program that personnel know their jobs, tasks and steps and how to do them efficiently, effectively at a minimum of risk with hazards under control. It is not just individual training that is needed – are you working towards assuring that a true team approach has developed regards safety?
11. Employ personnel accordance with their capabilities. Placing personnel in jobs beyond their physical or mental capabilities shows we don't understand items 4, 6, 7, 8, 9! Are you teaming with human resources and supervision to align people with the needs of the job? The job hazard analysis aids in getting a handle on tasks requirements. Getting the right people in the right role and function is essential to safety. Job requirements involve having an understanding of ergonomics, human performance, physical and mental skills to name a few. A great Job Hazard Analysis is worthless if the process of selection, orientation, training and management is weak or poorly managed.
Note how all these principles work together and reinforce each other. How do you stack up against them?
Allen, Nate and Burgess, Tony,Taking the Guidon, Center for Company-Level Leadership, 2001