Safety at the Board Level

April 16 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis

I am amazed on occasion when I meet with an organization's board of directors and listen to them attempt to discuss safety. They often know how important it is to business and what bad PR poor safety can create. But they continually make two critical and strategic mistakes. First, they oversimplify what it takes to improve safety and, second, they fail to understand the impact of their own conduct when they go out in the field.

Safety at the Board Level

The most common response to poor safety performance at the board level is to replace the head safety professional. Occasionally the board will hire extra help realizing their safety people are overloaded and understaffed. But, underlying both these approaches is an assumption that existing safety efforts are adequate and all that is needed is more. I seldom find organizations that need to put more resources into safety. More often, they need to strategically adjust their existing efforts. Sometimes they need to even reduce how much they are doing in safety because much of it is not productive.

Strategy is the role of directors, and simply changing out people or doing more is almost always a poor and ineffective safety strategy.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired 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.

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