ASSE: The Holy Grail of Safety

June 26, 2003
Creating a supportive culture that values the health and safety of employees is the "holy grail of safety," says consultant and author Donald Eckenfelder.

At the 2003 American Society of Safety Engineers' Professional Development Conference in Denver, Eckenfelder compared culture to the operating system of a computer. Without a culture based on the belief that employees are valuable and should work in a safe environment, safety programs, like application programs on a computer, will fail.

Eckenfelder said companies with effective safety programs share these 14 attributes;

1. Each employee takes responsibility for safety.

2. Safety is integrated into the management process.

3. The presence of the full-time safety professional is limited.

4. There is an off-the-job safety effort.

5. Safety and other training are seamlessly integrated.

6. Compliance comes naturally.

7. Programs and technical processes have history and occur naturally.

8. There is a bias against gimmicks.

9. Leadership always sets the example; safety is never taken lightly.

10. There is a recognizable safety culture.

11. The focus is more on process than statistics.

12. Negative findings are treated expeditiously.

13. The few safety professionals have stature.

14. Safety is seen as a competitive edge, not overhead.

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