July 28 2019
By: Terry L. Mathis
Many organizations ask workers to offer suggestions for safety improvements. Some ask workers to do observations, audits or Gemba walks for safety to look for safety issues. The good news is these efforts are an attempt to be proactive. The bad news is without a sense of direction, suggestions can go wild. Almost any capital investment or process improvement can theoretically be called a safety improvement. And even if it is a safety improvement, it may not address a critical area or one that is not already being effectively addressed.
When specific improvements are targeted, observers/auditors/Gemba walkers tend to focus their attention on significant issues that can potentially improve safety performance. Interestingly, that focus does not preclude them identifying issues that are not targeted. In short, targeting specific safety improvements improves the quality of suggestions for safety.
Many organizations measure the number of suggestions as a metric of proactive engagement in safety. Consider also measuring how many of those suggestions merited implementation and how many of those produced improved results.
Terry Mathis, Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.