In his newest blog post, guest blogger and Future Leader in EHS Jason Townsell shares his thoughts on successful EHS implementation, including decision-making skills, practicing EHS procedures, valuing safety and empowering employees. Townsell stresses that both EHS leaders and employees “can choose to make safety happen.” Here’s how:
Experience has taught me that our desired outcomes are little more than a series of decisions, some for the betterment of our situation and some to the detriment. This concept is true of worker safety and health as daily decisions made by individual workers (and those who work in the vicinity) may be of life-or-death importance.
One of my goals is to persuade workers to grasp the importance of their decisions. I encourage them to choose to be safe, as I believe that a worker can make that choice and subsequently act on it to make it happen.
There is great power in all decisions. When employees understand this, change is ready to arrive.
When I was in high school, my football coach did away with the traditional statement “practice makes perfect” and replaced it with “perfect practice makes perfect.” This is a concept that can transfer to the safety world as well.
While most EHS professionals (myself included) would agree that a perfect health and safety record is nearly impossible, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep reaching for it. Remind your employees daily that when health and safety procedures are followed to the letter, the chance of attaining perfection is much higher.
Roy Disney once said, “It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” This powerful statement provides the formula for getting one’s work force to make the right decisions every day.
People will not adhere to what they don’t value. As such, EHS professionals must do all that is possible to increase the value of the EHS program for workers. This may be done several ways, including: reaching out to employees and addressing how EHS affects them personally; highlighting the positive effects of EHS values; debunking myths about the additional time and cost required to implement safe actions; and empowering employees to take part in the EHS effort.
Empowering employees is one of the most important aspects of successful safety and health management. It gives workers power over their safety and also makes them a part of the greater EHS effort. This provides the all-important employee buy-in to the safety program.
I believe that safety works best when employees are empowered to be a part of the EHS program and its implementation. An empowered employee is much more likely to value a safety program than an employee who feels the information is simply dictated or commanded from above.
Assigning front-line managers with the task of overseeing the safety of his or her employees and making employees an integral part of a company’s safety committee produces a sense of camaraderie. In these cases, workers want to create an environment of cohesion and compliance.
These pointers represent just a few thoughts I had today regarding successful EHS implementation. Contemplation always brings new ideas. Try it today – consider how you can have a definite impact on the safety of those around you.
Jason Townsell, a student working toward a bachelor’s of science in occupational health and safety at Columbia Southern University, was recently named the first Future Leader in EHS. He received a $5,000 scholarship and access to PureSafety’s safety and health software and information solutions. The judges selected Townsell based on his work and life experience, community outreach efforts, academic performance, his interest in teaching and mentoring EHS students and more. Townsell is a contributing blogger for EHS Today.