Trusting when to stay the course during hard times is an admirable trait in a leader. But equally important is understanding a red flag versus a hardship. Identifying the difference between a minor hardship and a major warning sign — especially in safety — differentiates the good decision-makers from the foolhardy ones. Because staying the course when there are obvious warning signs present is playing chicken with lives, resources, and employee well-being, and asking to lose.
Leaders who are concerned about their employees and business success should monitor for warning signs that show an organization’s safety program is slipping. Catching these warning signs early on allows employers to address the underlying issues and strengthen workplace safety. This extra level of dedication from supervisors and decision-makers is what saves lives, resources, and money — and elevates good leaders to great leaders. So look for these five red flags around the workplace to course correct a safety program before it becomes a problem.
Higher Amount of Minor Injuries
The first warning is the most obvious. Any rise in injuries is a sign that something is amiss. Many employers believe only a rise in major injuries are worthy of greater scrutiny to uncover and address the root cause. But a rise in minor injuries still causes production to stop, lowers morale, and requires employee replacements to continue work as normal. Minor injuries also highlight a process or procedure that is likely unsafe enough to cause a major injury in the future. Reduce the potential for employees to suffer more serious injuries and be proactive at the first sign of rising minor injuries.
A rise in near-misses is just as important for workplace safety as a rise in injuries. Near-misses operate much like minor injuries in that they serve as a lagging indicator for where unsafe working conditions already exist and a leading indicator for where a major injury is most likely to occur. Investigate why near-misses are frequently occurring with a safety audit and address the issue with continual process improvement.
Uptick in Lost Work/Production Days
Production stops will slowly bleed a business from an inability to produce products or complete services. Seeing an uptick in lost production days is generally a sign of something else in addition to the lost time. Finding where the production stops are occurring will help leaders focus on a specific area to investigate and uncover the root cause that needs to be addressed.
Greater Amounts of Asset & Property Damage
Asset and property damage are costly issues. The upfront financial burden is the direct issue, but there are also the indirect issues just below the surface as well. A rise in asset and property damage without an immediate correlation in other areas generally shows that there is an increase in under-reporting near-misses or actual injuries. An environment where employees don’t feel comfortable reporting near-misses and injuries highlights a major breakdown in the workplace safety culture that demands immediate attention.
Compounding OSHA Citations
The most egregious sign that a safety program is failing is a rise in OSHA citations. An OSHA citation is not received without due process which means getting to this point requires several specific steps. Citations are received at the end of OSHA safety inspections and can be triggered from specific complaints or tips logged with OSHA. Each citation will point out exactly what needs to be corrected to be safety compliant. But organizations should be diligent in supporting a strong culture of safety to proactively keep a workplace safety compliant to best prevent incurring citations.
Recognizing where the cracks exist in a safety program is the first step toward sealing those cracks and reinforcing the foundation of safety in an organization. But trying to get an organization back on track doesn’t need to be an individual effort. Bringing in outside safety professionals, like Optimum Safety Management, to prepare a thorough analysis and action plan can help boost an organization’s safety program and culture beyond expectations. OSM’s P3 Safety Culture Analysis™ utilizes over thirty KPIs to show organizations specific, actionable ways to close safety gaps and reach attainable safety goals. Heed the safety warnings cropping up in the workplace and let Optimum Safety Management help steer your safety program back toward success.
Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.