Selling Safety, Softly

Over the years, I have viewed safety and health as a reflection of one’s attitude and behavior. Regulation and insurance are merely disciplinary measures that help modify and change behavior when we drift and provide direction when requirements are uncertain. Further, I have also found that education and training, mentoring and coaching yield safety results that are much more successful than regulatory enforcement approaches every thought of being.

It is important to remember that Selling Safety, Softly – Tempering Rules With Reason, Recognition and Reward is probably the best approach to enhancing United’s safety culture and rising above the normal behavior modification approaches which are found in OSHA inspections, fines, disciplinary policies that are universally unsuccessful over time. While rules and regulations are necessary, we are much better served in moving away from control and “gotcha” attitudes and turning our focus to a more constructive approach that develops a system of people who understand that they need to work safely and recognize that production and profit follow a safe project.

How many folks remember The Cord Cutter? You know, the inspector who rounds the corner to and finds an extension cord missing a ground pin. His eyes brightened as he reaches for a set of cutters, cuts the end of the cord off while remarking, “There, that one won’t be used again,” and drops the cord on the floor. In this case, two things are for sure: (1) OSHA cannot cite this cord for missing a ground pin. And (2) The inspector, safety guy, or superintendent is now the most hated guy on the planet. Moreover, this approach really does more damage to good people than not. Remember that one of our safety goals is to change the safety mindset and rise above rules and regulations to create a safe working environment for all; because it’s the right thing to do.

In Battling Lessons of the Past, it is important to learn that it’s not simply about highlighting what’s wrong with a project. Workers also have a desire and need [like we all do] to know when they do right and when the project is looking good. Motivation inspires human beings and incentives can often times make us work harder, smarter and better. Over the years, and across most industry sectors today, we have fallen short when it comes to recognition and rewarding people for doing something well.

We recognize that in the Construction Industry, as in life, we are a people business! It is important to Remember Those Who Do Well and to Remember the Person. It’s OK to tell someone they are doing a great job or to reinforce a worker’s positive attitude. The real challenge in all of this is to rise above rules and regulation in creating safe construction projects for our workers, the public, and the success of this organization. Once this safety culture is achieved you will find harmony in [safety] attitudes and behavior. Compliance will be achieved by default because safety and health is now elevated to a higher level.

Stay focused and maintain the right safety attitude and behaviors that enable you to return home to family and loved ones each day!