Whatever image the word “leadership” might bring to mind, the fact is, it often can be difficult to demonstrate. Sometimes, leadership means going against the flow, when the flow is going in the wrong direction. When it comes to safety, though, anyone on a plant-floor team can be a leader. Everyone should be, even when that means taking what might seem like an uncomfortable stand.
Safety leadership on the plant floor requires real courage, given the many issues that personnel regularly confront. Those issues include, among other things, scheduling problems, cost concerns, and psychological factors such as peer pressure and complacency. The more safety leaders a team has, however, the easier it is for hazards to be identified, action taken, and the safety “flow” turned in the right direction.
Who is a safety leader? According to experts with the Safway Group (safway.com, Waukesha, WI), it’s someone who demonstrates that he or she values safety by working and communicating to identify and limit hazardous situations. The key to a true culture of safety, they stress, is for all workers at a site to think of themselves as safety leaders and set an example in that regard, not only through their actions, but by what they say, how they say it, and, just as important, how they listen.
Do you qualify as safety leader? To find out, consider the questions in the following three-part quiz from Safway.
— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor
Are you engaged during safety meetings? Do you take notes and ask questions if something is unclear? Do you talk about the Job Hazard Analysis process? Are you prepared to stop work at any time if you believe an unsafe condition may exist?
Teaching, mentoring, coaching, and conducting safety observations are all excellent ways to promote safety conversations. Do you take time to explain the purpose behind safety procedures? Do you help others understand what cues help you assess a situation for safety? When you observe an opportunity for a safer way, do you communicate and address the issue?
3. Taking Suggestions Seriously
Good listening is essential for safety. It also takes time and effort to do well. Do you try to be open-minded and positive in response to other people’s safety suggestions? How about your body language? Do you give off a vibe of being open and engaged, and grateful for the feedback? Do you provide a meaningful response quickly, regardless of the outcome of the suggestion? All suggestions deserve positive feedback. It’s the building block of trust and openness, and, in the end, improvement.
Commit to safety
Most plant-floor personnel probably can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions every minute of every day. But when they make a conscious goal to be safety leaders, they’re well on their way to ensuring that they, their coworkers, and others are able to go home safely to their families every day. MT
For more information on access and multi-service issues and solutions, visit safway.com.