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Developing a Company Safety Goal

As part of our safety and health consultation services, while on-site, consultants complete a company “safety policy and procedures” evaluation as part of our safety review. One of the 58 questions we ask is, “What is your safety goal for this year?” The typical answer is, “our goal is no accidents this for this year.” I generally score that response as a 1 of 3, with 1 being the worst. It is not a very good goal because, just one accident would eliminate the facility from reaching its goal. Very few organization can go an entire year without an accident occurring. I suggest to the safety manager, that they review the accident trends looking for a behavior or conditions that show unhealthy trends. I then suggest using total compliance with written policies regarding that behavior as the yearly or current safety goal.

Two examples of a behavior based safety goal would be 100% safety glasses usage for all work groups or to promote good housekeeping within the facility, for all employees to remove tripping hazards in their respective work area.

I also suggest using the “SMART” format to help change employee behaviors. SMART stands for:
Specific /Measurable/Action Oriented /Realistic/Time Bound

After first selecting a behavior to change, next develop a measurement tool that easily tracks employee’s behavior regarding the goal. A check list on weekly inspections for housekeeping, or a weekly surprise inspection for compliance safety glasses usage in each work area.

Following that, select a simple reporting metric to indicate the results: letter grade or percent of compliance and break it down by work group or specific work area. Bar graphs and charts are useful in production meetings, but for this to work, employees should be able to easily see their “score” and how it relates to other employees or work groups in the organization.

Post the results of the inspection in a central location for the total work force to review. This lets everybody know who is following safety procedures and who is not. No supervisor wants his group to have an “F” or a low compliance rate regarding a company-wide goal. Friendly competition between work groups is never a bad thing.

The shorter the time period between the scoring the better. Typically, one week between evaluations gives employee timely feedback. Also, this could be an opportunity to celebrate a team victory with a nice Friday celebration. By celebration, I mean have some type of small reward for work groups that meet the goal. When I used this method for a housekeeping safety goal, and the group receiving an “A+,” they received a small breakfast sandwich from management.

In conclusion, a safety goal whether it be yearly or otherwise, should be a SMART goal that modifies an employee’s behavior as it relates to a safety issue. Pick a measurable safety goal that addresses a concern, measure the activity and post the results frequently. Remember to praise (celebrate) those who achieve the goal. This activity will not only demonstrate management’s commitment to safety, but also document that written safety rules are being enforced.