By Bob Lapidus, CSP (Retired), CSMS


A truism in the field of safety management is:

If you want to achieve successful safety results, you need to:

  1. Establish your safety mission, goals and objectives.
  2. Create safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations that work toward achieving the organization’s safety mission, goals and objectives.
  3. Communicate those safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations to all affected people.
  4. Ensure all affected people know the safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations on an ongoing basis.
  5. Require compliance with the safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations by holding people accountable.

Requiring compliance can be tricky because how an organization holds its people accountable has to do with the organization’s style of management.

A healthy style of management seeks to provide its employees with a work environment that encourages a positive work ethic.

I have said for years:

  • Give me a job.
  • Tell me what you expect me to do.
  • Let me have some say in how the work will be done.
  • Hold me accountable – – measure my performance.
  • And when I succeed, recognize my achievement.

So when I do what you want me to do (I comply), you let me know you are pleased with my work. When I don’t do what you want me to do (I don’t comply), you correct and coach me to change my ways and meet your expectations.

We have learned that if an employee is incapable of complying, or simply does not want to comply, that employee does not fit. Having to discipline an employee beyond positive correction and positive coaching should lead management to the conclusion that the employee needs to leave, at least that job. Perhaps the employee might work out in another position in the organization, but not the one s/he is currently in.

Such actions are part of the psychology of safety, achieving the behaviors you want accomplished in your organization. We have learned:

  1. Negative consequences build negative attitudes and behaviors
  2. Positive consequences build positive attitudes and behaviors.

Review how your organization seeks to obtain employee compliance with your safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations.

If negative consequences (verbal & written reprimands, suspensions, and terminations) are the order of the day, you will most likely have employees with negative attitudes and behaviors and consequently continued poor performance. If positive consequences (praise, uplifting comments, correction and coaching) are accomplished regularly, most likely you will have employees with positive attitudes and behaviors, and consequently the good performance you are seeking.

Go the Positive Route!

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For More Information:

Go to for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

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