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Safety Management Insights

Selling Safety Management to the Rest of Your Organization

Posted by Don Brown on Apr 18, 2014 9:30:00 AM

You know your programs matter, but how do you convince your fellow managers?

It’s not that your team doesn’t appreciate what you do. More than likely, they just don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish, why it’s necessary or how it fits into the company’s mission.

According to a recent Safety News Alert poll, 19 percent of safety managers said their biggest challenge was getting buy-in from senior management. If you’ve ever struggled to roll out a new initiative, you’ve probably heard all these reactions.

From human resources: “Do we really need another training program? It’s taking us too long to process new employees as it is.”

From accounting: “Revenues are down for the third consecutive quarter, and we nearly drained our annual capital improvements budget to address compliance issues. What will this cost, and how are we going to pay for it?”

From information technology: “We just upgraded our server and implemented a new cybersecurity program. We can’t add any software that isn’t compatible or compromises our firewalls.”

From operations: “This sounds time-consuming. Will we still be able to meet our quotas?”

From the CEO: “What’s the return on our investment here? What outcomes do we want to accomplish, and how can we measure the results?”

All are valid concerns you should be prepared to address. To get your organization on board, you need to first help managers recognize the need for change.

In the United States, nearly 12 workers were killed each day on the job, according to 2012 data from OSHA. Businesses spend approximately $170 billion each year on costs associated with injuries and illnesses, which takes away from the bottom line. OSHA estimates strong safety programs can reduce these costs by as much as 20 to 40 percent. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in safety yields a $4 to $6 return on investment.

These figures are compelling, but data from your own company is even more convincing.

Think about the evidence you have available. Look at incident reports, near-misses and employee surveys, if possible. An integrated safety database can help you easily search for this information. If you don’t already have a database in place, consider implementing one as part of your safety program.

Next, give options. Senior managers never want to feel like something is being forced upon them. Show them you’ve done your research by showing them several different companies that offer your program at different price points.

Show them the evidence. Find companies similar to yours that have used the program or service for at least a year. What specific improvements have they seen? What was the cost, and what do they estimate they’ve saved over time? What obstacles did they face in implementing the program? How did they get workers to buy into it?

Ask for input. What other questions or concerns do your team members have? What do they think is a realistic time frame? What support systems do they need for a successful implementation? Be willing to negotiate on some of the details.

Finally, keep your team involved. Be receptive to concerns after the program is in place. Track its progress and offer monthly updates. Be sure to account for the costs. To show a return on your investment, look at the costs of related injuries — including lost time — from the year before and after you implemented the initiative. Make sure your data has a specific focus. If your program relates to preventing equipment-related injuries, target your data accordingly. If the program is more general, consider conducting an employee perception survey before and after implementation.

A healthy safety culture requires a commitment from everyone, from entry-level workers to the C-Suite. You need strong communication and transparency to achieve this.

To find out what other safety managers are doing to be more efficient, read our free eBook, “9 Ways To Make Your Job as a Safety Manager Easier.” 

9 Ways to Make Your Job as a Safety Manager Easier