Before an organization begins to curse safety it is likely that one or more of the following have occurred: regulators with a limited knowledge base of safety have shown up and caused grief, a condition of supposed danger has led to an operations shutdown, a series of injuries or a severe injury has caused notable concern.
All humor aside, events like these get management’s attention, and should. When this sort of thing occurs the organization seems inevitably to enter into the safety event reaction cycle, which goes something like; an event occurs, management reacts and demands more safety activities, incidents go down in frequency, the organization breathes a sigh of relief and shortly returns to the predominant production culture. Inevitably, a while later another event occurs and back we go into the safety event reaction cycle of insanity.
The real issue is a weak safety culture that puts safety subordinate to a more predominant culture. This is the true precursor to workers’ safety issues. The solution is to develop a strong safety culture. Engagement of personnel throughout the organization in developing and living appropriate safety accountabilities (activities) for all processes is the solution to safety incident reaction cycle insanity. Upper management, middle management, supervision and hourly labor all need to be engaged in this safety culture resolution initiative. It is not about regulations or observations; it is about developing a culture of correct that relentlessly pursues and delivers a culture of appropriate accountabilities at all levels of the organization for all of the at-risk processes on and off the job.