A recent post at the OSHA Underground blog relates that Safety Engineers feel that they get little respect, and we agree that the frustration many professionals feel is real and a burden to success, not only in construction, as was indicated, but in all industries.
OSHA Underground alluded to two of the major causes; one created by safety people themselves and the other by their employers. In this post, let’s discuss the first:
“Efforts are not valued” – Many employers do not value the contribution and results achieved by their safety staff because no value is determined. Safety professionals have a tendency to fall back on the archaic measurement of injury and illness rate, and injury cost as their measure of success. This is a lagging measure of consequences. It is a traditional measure that allows one to focus on cost avoidance. As a result, most safety people demonstrate their value by subjectively projecting cost savings through injury avoidance, not actual measurement of their contribution.
In business and in life, value is measured in one way; MONEY. Safety professionals need to expand their ability and use of objective measures that demonstrate Return on Invesment (ROI). Simply put, what is the monetary return to the bottom line of a business from that investment in the safety program. This means breaking away from traditional safety measures that have been handed down for the past century and finding new ways of measuring contribution. Most importantly, the measures should be familair, common, and of interest to management. For example, the contribution of safety towards decreasing cycle time (production), increased employee retention, and improvements to quality.
When safety professionals begin to measure and demonstrate the value they offer (MONEY) then business leaders will value the efforts of programs and individuals.