Leading Safety – Less is More

I started this communication process back in 2016 and save the messages to a blog posting site just to keep a record in the event anyone would want to refer back to one of them (59 messages).  That site is open to folks outside IP.  I noticed a while back that the message most read (by far) was a message several years ago entitled Leading Safety.  In fact, I think this message might have been read as many times as all others put together.  There must be a strong interest in that subject matter.

With that in mind, I want to revisit that subject, but from a very different perspective.

You see, over the years, I have learned that simplicity and execution make a huge difference in anything I get involved in.

Let me give an example outside of our basic job function.  I have followed Texas High School football for years.  One coach that I keep up with due to his longstanding success is Todd Dodge.  Dodge has won state championships at Southlake Carroll in Dallas and more recently Westlake High School in Austin.  He is known for his high powered offenses that throw the ball all over the field.  I talked to one of his former players a while back and learned that although Dodge has a very thick playbook, he and his staff only select 8 passing plays each week based on what they see on film and think will work the best.  They work on these 8 plays each day of practice leading up to the game and focus on precision execution.

If that isn’t the picture of strategic simplicity and focused execution, I don’t know what is.

Now let’s take that same concept to leading safety with three key focus areas that really drive safety:

  1. Environment:  Do we have a safe working environment for our people?  That question entails guarding, gates, energy control processes on machines, walking surfaces/handrails, and anything else that would inherently provide layers of protection for our people while they do work.
  2. Equipping:  Are we effectively teaching our people how to do work and how to recognize and respond to hazards?  You likely call it training; I call it equipping.  As we introduce people to the work environment, we have to prepare them to work safely.  We give them knowledge, PPE, and processes to do their work safely.
  3. Engagement:  Are we ensuring everyone maintains focus (all the time)?  Leaders engaging employees and employees engaging employees is the most effective way to maintain focus.  With any initiative involving people, fatigue, distractions, complacency, frustration, etc. can impact focus.  For leaders to overcome these challenges, we not only need to engage others, we have to develop a culture of engagement where everyone is engaging all the time.  Part of that engagement is a culture of personal accountability as well.

If we could build our strategy around those three key things and execute them with extreme precision, we would see lasting change in leading safety.  Our tendency, if we aren’t careful, is to just keep throwing more activities at the challenge.  Sometimes, less is more. 

How does this work for you leading your team; Strategic simplicity coupled with precision execution as our focus?

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