The vast majority of workplaces in North America are dedicated to meeting safety compliance standards as required by law. Ask any safety manager and they’ll tell you that regardless of how well they’re doing with compliance issues, they’d also love to have a stronger safety culture and better employee engagement.
As Ray Prest says, this isn’t a coincidence. In fact, there is a big gap between the compliance that companies are focused on and the engagement they desire.
In his column in the latest issue of Safety Decisions, Ray notes that businesses are so zeroed in on compliance that they fail to recognize that it’s only the first step in the safety journey. He argues that:
One of the most common places people get stuck is in treating compliance like the finish line. They keep trying to improve safety performance through better engineering, better procedures, more communication, more discipline— but usually with minimal or temporary improvements. It’s what they know best.
It can take a lot of mental work to recognize that compliance is actually the starting line. There can be no meaningful safety programs without compliance—but there’s a whole world of safety improvements beyond compliance.
When companies achieve their compliance goals it’s incumbent on them to ask, “What’s next?” They also need to consider the best tools to achieve their next safety goals. To this end, Ray provides a number of suggestions in the article, including:
- discussing off-the-job safety
- recognizing that everyone has their own safety agenda
- establishing an environment that is conducive to real engagement
The article provides a framework for understanding these issues and offers a few practical tips on how to start incorporating them into your safety program. The entire column can be found here, and it’s well-worth reading for safety professionals who have fulfilled their compliance requirements but recognize that much more must still be done.