While teaching a group about some of the basics that go into a complete safety program, I made the point, as I finished each section, that we hadn’t really learned anything new or magical. Maybe that is the problem. Safety is just so simple that we forget to include it in our plans and actions.
Standing there talking to that group I realized that virtually everyone’s mother would be telling them the same kind of things. The true basics like, stop and think before you act, and how do you know something is dangerous unless you have been told what to watch for.
Granted, there are all sorts of complex issues that safety persons are called on to deal with and resolve. However, too often we forget that the basics can be as simple as Stop, Think, and then Act. We make things far more complicated than they need to be and our audience wanders off and misses the point.
Consider too the difference between ‘empowering’ workers to use a Stop, Think, Act approach and ‘expecting’ its use every time. In the first case, we are not providing leadership, and in fact, we assume that because we said it was okay, every worker will just deal with the situation correctly. In the second case, when we make it clear that we expect and will look for a certain performance, we are supplying leadership by setting and monitoring that
The difference is subtle but the outcomes are vastly different. Setting clear expectations and then monitoring and coaching to ensure they are met will always give a superior result. The real difference is how the idea of Stop, Think, and Act is viewed by workers. When you clearly show you value an idea it will be valued by those you lead.
So really simple but effective safety is accomplished by setting the clear expectation of taking that moment before starting a job to evaluate the hazards present and how they are dealt with. In many cases that might even require a short form to be completed that documents the pre-job safety review. The important part is that leadership actions show everyone how important you feel this is for everyone’s safety.
So if safety really starts with something that simple, what does that say about us when we don’t use it?