Zero incidents—it’s a goal many organizations strive to accomplish; but making it a reality is a complex process that takes work, commitment and long-term planning. It also requires effort not only on the part of the safety manager, but from your company as a whole. From new policies to training to cultural changes, it involves a lot more than the elimination of risks. Below are six strategies that will help you meet your zero-incident goal sooner rather than later.
Define your goals
Zero incidents may be your personal goal as safety manager—and it’s certainly a target everyone can appreciate—but focusing on what you don’t want is a surefire way to fail. Companies that achieve sustainably excellent results focus on what they can define and measure, and they encourage the changes they want to see, rather than discouraging negative events. To ensure your teams can consistently progress toward that zero-incident goal, define the types of actions that will get you there: training sessions, incident logging, equipment maintenance and more.
Focus on changing the variables in your control
Similarly, it’s critical that you focus on changing the variables that are actually in your control. Weather fluctuations, for instance, aren’t something you can change, but you can mitigate their hazards with better cold- and warm-weather policies. In general, you can’t control outcomes, but you can control the actions that will lead to the results you desire. Focus on the quality, quantity and consistency of safety-related actions to reliably effect change in your company’s weekly, monthly and yearly accidents and illnesses.
Set short term goals
Zero incidents is an ambitious goal, and it’s easy to get caught up in the big picture and major milestones. Progress is incremental, however, and it’s far easier for the people who will carry out their initiatives to focus on short-term goals. You may want to retrain everyone at your company on your updated safety policies, for example, but first you’ll need to focus on smaller numbers of individuals, teams and departments. In the long run, you’ll actually make faster progress by achieving smaller, short-term goals in succession.
Start at the bottom
You and other safety personnel will be creating the plans to achieve your goal, and your senior management may have signed off on the initiative. Ultimately, though, your workers are the ones who will carry out those plans. Their behavioral changes will lead to reductions in equipment failures, slips and falls, lockout errors and all of the other hazards that threaten their safety. To ensure your safety initiatives are successful, conduct interviews and walk-throughs, and gather as much feedback as possible regarding their day-to-day hazards.
Don’t take training for granted
Your people may be well-trained and experienced, but you can’t take their safety knowledge for granted. Just as they hone their job skills by using them every day, they’ll need ongoing safety training to remain up-to-date and ready to carry out new policies and procedures.
Track progress and changes
Finally, you can’t make progress if you don’t know your strengths, weaknesses and problem areas. OSHA auditors will want records of every accident and work-related illness, but you need to keep track of those and other statistics for your own purposes, as well. Electronic investigation and reporting allow you to efficiently record accidents, monitor trends and determine which tasks and locations in your facilities are the most dangerous. You can also automatically generate OSHA forms and internal documentation, allowing you and your team to spend more time on more demanding tasks.
To learn more about the benefits of electronic incident tracking and having a comprehensive EHS management solution, request a consultation.