“All these rules and regulations are BS,” an employee told Troy Bonar, safety manager at Buffalo Gap Instrumentation & Electrical Co. Inc. (ASC 2011).
“I said, ‘You’re right! All these rules and regulations are BS … They’re basic safety. What we’re here today to do is cut through the BS!’” remembered Bonar.
Compliance is basic safety, according to him. A world-class safety culture focuses on leading indicators, like near misses, mentoring, training, employee and management engagement, cross-functional teams, etc. Safety professionals’ real title should be “solutions provider,” according to him. “We are there to solve problems.” And not just problems with safety, but problems with production as well, since safety and production have a strong relationship at world-class companies.
At companies with great safety cultures, safety is part of the tasks at hand. It’s not a task to be completed, it’s an inherent aspect of all tasks. Once management and employees realize the value of safety, safety will become “an intentional value,” Bonar noted.
“Honesty, integrity; those are values,” he said. “At first, make safety a priority [because priorities can change so that’s not your end goal] until it becomes a personal value for employees.”
Bonar went through a list of what he calls the “10 Pillars of Success.” These include people, planet, public, product, property, profits, productivity, process, progress and profession. Safety should play a role in all 10 pillars if it is considered a value at the company, he claimed. And if employees are engaged in the safety process, they become more engaged in the production process.
Safety – using leading indicators to identify issues before they cause injuries and illnesses – is one of the best ways to empower employees to take responsibility for their work and their safety, according to Bonar.
“People are your power when you empower your people,” he added. “Safety is more than PPE and warning signs. It is health and life safety, sharing knowledge, building skills – including soft skills like coaching and leadership.” As an added benefit, all of those things play a role in the 10 pillars of success identified by Bonar.
Since “one person saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can set [your business and safety efforts] back by years,” going beyond compliance to make safety a corporate value is good business sense, he said.