Safety vs. Liability

March 25 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis

I see more and more safety procedures written by corporate attorneys and their staff. While legal exposure is a real business consideration that deserves attention, so is safety. If the procedures are written in language the average worker can't understand, or are too complex to remember, they have little chance of actually being implemented. What corporate attorneys need to understand is that a written procedure is not an insurance policy against government regulators, especially if the procedure doesn't become common practice. Stiff fines have been given to organizations with excellent documentation but common practice that doesn't match. The people in the field need to walk the talk or the exposure is still there.

Sometimes all that is needed is a shorter version of the procedure aimed at worker terminology and mapped out into an implementation plan. The legal document can still be in place as the organizational goal, while the shorter document is a practical attempt to turn the goal into reality in the workplace. I have found regulators much more understanding of performance that falls short of the ideal if there is a plan in place to make it happen. Attorneys: work with the safety staff to make procedures practical and applicable as well as liability limiting.

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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