What Really Drives Safety Excellence?

June 4, 2018 No Comments

What Drives Safety Excellence?

During my career,  I spearheaded numerous studies aimed at identifying the true drivers workplace accidents.  These studies attempted to identify the differences between companies that have excellent employee safety records and those who have poor records.

We conducted these studies at hundreds of USA and Canadian locations.  In these studies we:  collected OSHA accident records and workers compensation claims data, had employees/supervisors/managers complete survey questionnaires, and conducted detailed workplace audits.

After all the data was analyzed, we found that the top performing locations (regardless of size or type of industry) had largely similar characteristics!

The below factors were determined to be significant predictors of “safety excellence”.  These factors (in no particular order of importance) were found to be in place at most of the top performing organizations.

#  Good housekeeping – properly stored materials

#  Roomy, uncrowded workplace

#  Calm, unhectic workplace

#  Employees involved in planning work procedures

#  Employees have control over their work pace, work environment, and work process 

 Modern machinery that incorporates state-of-the-art safety & health protections

#  Well maintained machinery with regular safety/preventative-maintenance inspections

#  Operating managers accountable for their accident records

#  Accidents are reviewed with the top operations manager/executive at the accident location soon after they occur

#  Affiliative management style 

#  Drug testing program for current employees

#  Employees trained in ergonomics and back injury prevention

#  Employees receive task/machine specific safety training before operating equipment/tools/machinery

#  Safety is discussed with employees at the start of their shift

#  Safety contests have no relationship to accident results

Younger employees have better accident records than older employees

Non-union employers have better accident records than union employers

In addition to the above “general” characteristics, we also identified numerous “industry specific” characteristics that are also good predictors of superior accident performance.  An example would be the method and type of equipment used to unload flatbed semi-trailers.  I have chosen not to list any industry specific factors because they would not be of interest to our diverse readership.

Employers need to understand what really drives safety results in order to focus their loss control efforts and resources on measures that actually work!  While compliance with governmental occupational safety and health regulations are required, focusing your accident prevention efforts and resources on the above items will have a greater impact on both the frequency and severity (cost) of your accidents!


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