Many Safety Managers use posters and pithy statements to communicate messages and raise awareness about the need to be safe, think safe and act safe.
In this messaging, choice of words becomes important. Standard messaging don’t always cut it.
Thinking out of the box, or using humour can help. I love this example:
Effective Evacuation notification:
Before Texas passed mandatory evacuation law, no one could be ordered out of their home.
A few years back when a hurricane threatened the Texas coast. A county sheriff issued the statement on local radio.
“If you are not evacuating, please paint in large numerals on you roof the number of people staying. That way we’ll know how many bodies to look for”.
Short and Effective. Love it.
Last year a blogger, the Time Ninja blog ran a post – 5 Reasons To Say No To The Fire Drill that I felt was irresponsible and ignored the emergency aspect and saving of lives.
The article asked the question – ‘what would happen if you chose to say no to the fire drill? Would the earth stop spinning? Would you lose your job?’
I responded as follows:
Whilst this is a good article, it completely misses the point of a fire drill.
The objective of such a drill is to save lives.
Not only is it a legal safety issue, it is crucial for any organization that wants to protect its reputation. I mean who wants to work or do business with an organization that killed employees and hopefully not, customers as well.
The whole idea with an emergency is to be prepared and to deal with the crisis situation in an orderly and organized manner.
This brings us to a problem situation. If you are an Emergency Manager, do you run an simulation unannounced or a simulation that has been communicated before the time. The one is real, the other contrived.
IMHO it is the best to do the second. People will comply, once they fully understand the reasons WHY, not just the How. I have taken managers with a dubious outlook to the burn unit at a local hospital. Once they visited there, their whole life experience changed.
Equip people to act positively. Build on rocks, not sand.
Ultimately, this goes deeper. To be an Admired Company today, to be a Best employer, deserves attention to detail others ignore. Ultimately it is about caring. A Company that does not prepare for all eventualities will communicate a message that it stakeholders are not important, and as research shows these days, people want to do business with companies they can trust – even from a safety perspective.
It encourages suppliers to want to be associated with you.
Your approach to health, safety and the environment can be an important part of that reputation. Some companies have built their success on a reputation for doing the right thing. Others have suffered as customers, local communities, and even their own employees have turned against them.
Many companies’ spokes persons utter the following words when there has been an accident. “Any time there’s an accident, and any time there’s a risk to safety we’re absolutely concerned about it,”
What does absolutely concerned mean? A NOSA 5 Star rating? , Minimum legal compliance? What? An injury rate that is below industry norm?
Every single year there are numerous accidental deaths and disablement in industries around SA. The Department of Labour has been trying to impact on this, through closures, legislation, education and many other laudable efforts. Unfortunately with little real impact! How come? Well, it is something that excellent salespeople know. If you sell features, people don’t buy. When you sell, benefits, customers buy.
Unfortunately, threats work only up to a point. Unfortunately many companies do not realise that what they are doing to a large proportion of their share price when there is an accident or major incident? In today’s information sharing age, no company can afford anymore to ignore the implications of non-compliance. These days’ employees do not want to work anymore for an employer who maims and kills its employees.
No I can just imagine, some employer sitting somewhere, reading this post, thinking: “This writer does not know what he is talking about. In SA – a developing country, there are more sources of supply than demand for labour.
Sure, but there is one thing the employer has forgotten about. Bad news now can spread worldwide at the push of a button. And, that push has the impact to affect not only employees, but also suppliers and other stakeholders.
In fact in Europe some employers are not prepared to do business anymore with companies that destroy the environment or hurt their employees.
In the end, if you consider going beyond the legislative and punitive judgements, a company will be remembered for their destruction of the environment(Exxon Mobil/BP) destruction of communities (Union Carbide, Bhopal, India) and their actions when faced with employees that have fallen ill (British Cape, Thor Chemicals, etc.).
But, what about the recipients? Oh, don’t worry! They will receive a pay-out, based on current legislation that will try to recompense them for the destruction of their normal life. What most parties, including the Media forget about is that no legislation, cover pain, loss and suffering.
The only newspaper that has really gone all out to cover these issues in my opinion has been the Sunday Independent newspaper. I mean they have even featured it in the Business Section on the front page. “I mean, what is their problem? (A manager speaking)
It raises an interesting debate. Where are SA’s investigative journalists? Uncovering governance debacles, I presume. High profile cases advances careers.
How come SA’s investigative journalists do not “nail management to the wall” when an accident happens? In the USA and in Europe, the media will not allow this type of situation to proliferate. In SA, Page 4 plus is the norm.
What is your Company’s Reputation for safety?
Its well worth making customers, employees and the local community aware of your Safety, Health & environmental commitment. For example, you might want to emphasize the steps you’ve taken to reduce accidents and to reduce pollution. Your approach to sustainability is likely to be of interest to stakeholders.
They may be interested in how you minimise and dispose of waste, what you’ve done to make your processes more environmentally friendly and what you have done to comply with relevant legislation.