Addressing Safety Behavior vs. Compliance

It has been well debated over the years; how does a safety professional improve safety performance within the organization. Many safety professionals seek to maintain compliance with regulatory standards or local codes, but I think it goes deeper than that. To truly impact the safety performance of a company, special consideration needs to be placed on improving behavioral concepts and communication.

The way I approach safety is to take a look at employee motivation, job task performance and management commitment and style. If you can get the management and employee to make their behavior safety oriented then compliance becomes an added benefit not something to stress over.

One of the biggest mistakes I see within organizations is management’s lack of enforcement of the rules or expectations. For example:
A supervisor is walking a construction project. The project requirements state that safety glasses must be worn while in the construction area. The supervisor walks by three of his workers not wearing their safety glasses and does not say anything to them about it (note: here is where the behavior change comes into play). The supervisor continues on his way and the employees are now left with the impression that it is acceptable behavior to disregard the provision to wear safety glasses.

Think about that scenario and if the supervisor had stopped and said something. It is all about behavioral changes for all levels within the organization, not just the front line workers.


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