Why a Safety First approach can be risky

So many businesses have this catch phrase "Safety First." It's great that they are making safety a priority, the first thing they do when they start work, or get to a new site, is check that they are safe. But what happens after that? Does safety carry on to the second or third thing you do? Or does it just stay at the start?

This is why we think a safety first approach or culture can be risky, it can give you a false sense of security that everything is ok, but in reality a lot of unsafe work is happening.

So in this weeks Workshop Wednesday Adelaide asked Zane what things we can do or ask to make sure our safety first approach is actually putting safety as a priority in the work we do and not just at the start of the day.

A safety irst approach or culture can make people think they are doing things right - their safety is sorted - when actually a lot of unsafe work is happening.
Does that mean that we should go get a new slogan? No not at all, it just means that we need to have a different look at it and ask this question: "What are we actually doing to keep people safe?"

Why not do some really practical stuff.

  • Things like making sure people have the right skills for the work, they have any training, licences and requirements of the job. Or even taking them through a process of how to do something before they go do it themselves.
     
  • It's also loving your gear like your people. People might have the right training and skills but if they are operating dodgy gear then something could go wrong. So make sure your gear has all the right checks done, its maintained and any damage is reported so it can be fixed.

There are lots of ways to make sure safety is a priority, but we think just starting with a few easy practical things and recording them in one easy to access place(like PeopleSafe) will make a big difference in your business and will move safety from this thing that is isolated at the start of the day to something that is part of the work.

So the next time you hear someone say they have a safety first approach, be sure to ask, "What are the practical things you are doing to make sure you're people are safe?"

 

Let us know what you think by leaving a post on our Facebook, give us a Tweet or send an email to questions@peoplesafe.co.nz


Transcript

Zane
G'day, and welcome to another Workshop Wednesday. What are we talking about today, Adelaide?

Adelaide
So today, we're talking about why a "safety first" approach could actually be risky to your business. So tell me first, what is "safety first"?

Zane
Well, "safety first" is when you ask people in the business, "hey, what do you think about safety in your business?" And they go, "oh, safety first."

Adelaide
Well, that sounds great to me, why is that risky?

Zane
I guess the problem is that it makes people think they're doing things that they're not. It's most often it's a bit of a she'll-be-right approach to safety. "Oh yeah, safety first, she'll be right. Nah, all good."

Adelaide
Sounds like it's a bit of a conspiracy to be fair.

Zane
No, no, no, it's not a conspiracy theory. However it's a good way to fake that you're doing the safety stuff, I guess.

Adelaide
So what is a better approach then how can small businesses do "safety first" right?

Zane
Well, I think what they need to do is they need to do some real practical stuff. So things like checking that the people have got the skills they need for the job, checking that they have got someone going and actually giving them a hand the first couple of times they do it.

So it's not just, "you're on your bike. Get amongst it, mate." It's actually being really proactive and helping them. And it's making sure they've got the licenses they need and they got all the information they need to do the job real safe.

Adelaide
Great. What else? There's got to be more.

Zane
Of course there's more.
The other key thing that we find is we've got a saying at PeopleSafe. "Love your gear like you love your people."
Make sure that the gear that they're using to do the work is actually OK and it's looked after. It's maintained. It certified. When things break with it, fix it. Yeah, make sure that you love your gear like your people.

Adelaide
Next time I hear someone saying, oh, no, no, "safety first" around here, what do I say? How do I respond?

Zane
Well, that's an excellent question. You just go to them, challenge them and say, well, what are you doing then? What are the things that you're doing to take safety first?
And when they go, "uh, ooh, uh, uh," you know that they haven't actually got anything practical that they're doing.

So say, what are we going to do practically that will make sure that this thing we're doing is safe.

Adelaide
Sounds good to me. Workshop Wednesday.

Zane
See you next week.