- Building high-performing safety teams is crucial to the long-term success of an organization.
- Safety involves every department, and cross-functional teams should be formed.
- A standard set of metrics that include both leading and lagging indicators should be agreed upon.
- Create means for employee feedback to gather information and improve safety performance.
- Focus should be on developing the people, not just meeting the metrics.
- There is always room for improvement, and the safety team should continually adapt and evolve.
The Importance of Safety Teams
In any organization, the concept of high-performing teams resonates across all levels and departments. High-performing teams not only achieve productivity and performance goals but also ensure the organization’s long-term success. The same applies to safety teams, whose performance can be the deciding factor between a safe, productive workplace and one fraught with hazards and risks.
In this context, the question arises: how do we build high-performing safety teams? Let’s explore the five key principles for creating and fostering such teams in your organization.
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1. Building Cross-Functional Safety Teams
Safety is not confined to a specific department; it is a universal concern that transcends departmental boundaries. From engineering to production, maintenance, and human resources, safety is the cumulative effort of every department within an organization.
To build a high-performing safety team, it’s essential to include representatives from every department. This diversity fosters a holistic approach to safety, incorporating insights from various sectors of the organization. When selecting the safety team, engage with directors from each department and choose a leader who can listen to employees, articulate concerns, and lead safety initiatives in their daily work.
2. Agreeing on a Set of Metrics
As the adage goes, “What gets measured gets done.” This statement applies to every function of a company, and safety is no exception. However, many safety teams fail by focusing solely on lagging indicators, such as the number of recordable injuries or the number of days away from work.
Lagging indicators are important, but they are reactive, documenting incidents after they have occurred. In contrast, leading indicators are predictive, providing data that can help prevent incidents from happening in the first place. These could include the number of near misses reported or the participation rate in safety training sessions.
A high-performing safety team should agree on a standard set of metrics that include both leading and lagging indicators. This balanced approach ensures a comprehensive safety strategy that addresses both prevention and response.
3. Creating Means for Employee Feedback
Although having representatives from each department helps diversify thoughts and input, direct feedback from employees is invaluable. Implementing methods such as anonymous perception surveys can help gather this feedback from all levels of the organization. These surveys can reveal critical insights about the safety culture and identify areas of improvement, fostering a more effective and inclusive safety environment.
4. Focusing on Developing the People, Not Just the Metrics
While it’s important to have clear, measurable objectives, the ultimate goal of a safety team should be to foster a safe and healthy work environment. This means caring about the well-being of the employees and investing in their development. It involves understanding their needs and finding ways to meet those needs. High-performing safety teams know that their people are their most valuable assets, and they prioritize their development and well-being.
5. Continual Improvement
Safety is not a destination but a journey. As such, no safety team has ever “arrived” at their final destination of success. With a changing work environment – from technology updates to employee turnover – the safety team should always be ready to adapt, learn, and improve.
By consistently evaluating and refining safety protocols, organizations can maintain a dynamic approach to safety. This continual process of improvement will ensure that the safety team and the organization as a whole remain responsive and adaptable, meeting the ever-changing needs of their workforce.
In conclusion, building a high-performing safety team involves more than just hiring qualified individuals. It requires a strategic approach that fosters cross-functional collaboration, embraces measurable objectives, encourages employee feedback, invests in people, and promotes continual improvement.
While these strategies may require time and resources to implement, the benefits they bring – from improved safety records to increased employee satisfaction – are well worth the investment. By following these five key principles, any organization can build a safety team that not only meets expectations but exceeds them, playing a pivotal role in the organization’s success.