Building an organizational culture that supports safety is no easy task. This is especially true in the trucking industry where there is little or no direct supervision or everyday personal contact with a significant portion of the work force.
Certainly, a culture that supports safety begins with top management. However, supporting safety within the organization is the responsibility of front-line supervisors and managers. An employee’s behavior is strongly influenced by the way management performs and acts towards safety. Workers are more likely to exhibit safe behavior if they recognize that management is strongly committed to safe work practices. Management must demonstrate this commitment by ensuring safe work practices are a core value of the organization. Management is responsible for the efficient operation of all systems within the organization. How these systems are managed influences safe behavior. Thus, safety, and minimizing risks associated with any operation, must be considered in every business decision.
To be highly effective, front-line managers must be proactive and facilitate employee safety and health training. This opens the door for getting employees involved in problem solving and improving safety within the company. By becoming actively involved in incident investigation, front-line managers can uncover hazards associated with the operations of the company. These hazards can be eliminated or controlled, allowing the organization’s systems to function smoothly and profitably. Actively listening to employee’s complaints about unsafe conditions and taking corrective action to eliminate or control the hazard, demonstrates strong leadership.
Supervisors and managers should be encouraged to take every opportunity to discuss safety issues with employees. Talking about safety every day, rather than in weekly or monthly meetings, will help ensure at-risk behavior is eliminated. An excellent time for supervisors and managers to discuss safety is when he or she can praise employees for using proper safety procedures in completing a task.
Management’s effectiveness should be measured by the prevention of motor-vehicle collisions and personal-injury incidents. However, using trailing indicators as a measure of success should be supplemented with leading performance metrics. This is probably better illustrated by Dr. Robert Long, who said, “Measuring safety performance by the number of injuries you have is like measuring parenting by the number of smacks you give.” Consider successful measures which may include: number of safe behavior incidents recognized, total workers’ compensation costs, average cost per claim, incident investigations completed on time, action plans implemented, safety meetings held as scheduled, management safety participation, resolution of suggestions and/or complaints, job safety analysis, policies and procedures updated on time, wellness program participation rates, emergency drills conducted, percent of employees trained in CPR, First Aid, training conducted as scheduled, and many more.
Top management of any organization should invest in its manager’s future by supporting them in developing the necessary skills to become world class safety leaders.
For additional information on why front-line management must support safety, contact Great West Casualty Company for any questions or concerns. Also, feel free to contact us with any truck insurance questions or quotes.