How Management Can Undermine Safety

I read a really good example on, unfortunately, poor safety management. A truck driver cut his head and reported the incident. The safety manager then decided that the best preventative measure was for all truck drivers to wear safety hats. The decision was passed all the way back down until it reached the hard-nosed truck drivers. Even reading this I’m sure you can imagine the reaction! Especially as the cab doors were not large and if they did wear hard hats, they would be knocked off every time anyway.

There are so many lessons in this example, including how to conduct an investigation (ie ask the workers!), and how to encourage any incident report to include recommendations at the point-of-sale ie better open communication. But the biggest lesson is one of numpty communications – all the good work around safety can be undone by 1 flippant comment or decision, especially from a senior manager. This resulted in:

1. Ridicule of the manager

2. Distrust in the company

3. Ridicule of all those people that passed on the message

4. and a likely drop in reporting of incidents (and opportunity to learn)

Safety Management decisions are far reaching! Please be thoughtful and more thorough in your decision making around safety.