Many companies get stuck on the message that the goal is zero injuries for their safety efforts. The problem with focusing on achieving zero injuries is the process to get there may end up taking a back seat to the result. The result should not be important than the process, especially in safety.
Why should the process be the focus as opposed to the result? A simple example can provide clarity:
ABC Construction Company did not have any recordable injuries in 2019, but if you visit any of their job sites you will spot many hazards. There are employees not wearing any PPE, preplanning for work tasks is poor, near misses occur weekly, etc.
XYZ Construction Company has the same number of employees as ABC does, but the company had two recordable injuries in 2019. These injuries involved employees climbing off their equipment and suffering sprain injuries. XYZ’s culture, however, values and rewards safety efforts, unlike ABC. Their employees follow the safety rules, they report and correct hazards, and management is continually implementing new safety initiatives to improve.
Who would you say is the safer company? If you are looking at the result many companies look at, the injury statistics, then ABC is “safer.” If you evaluate the processes of how each company is approaching safety, then it is easy to see that XYZ is the safer company of the two.
Yes, the end goal of safety is to prevent injuries, but the emphasis must be on the process to reduce the risk for injury, not the end result. A company can do nothing when it comes to safety and still be injury-free for quite some time. The same truth applies to each individual worker.
There are so many things that need to go right to achieve zero injuries, and focusing on that goal can be daunting. Instead, focus on the processes in place to ensure safety. When the processes are continually improved, the risk for injury decreases.
Points to Ponder
- Zero injuries does not always equal safe.
- An injury does not necessarily make a person or company unsafe.
- The process is more important than the outcome.
- Improvement can always be in made in safety processes.