The Ten Basic Principles of Safety

Article by Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

Dan Petersen, Safety Management – A Human Approach
Aloray, Goshen, NY

In Memoriam: Dan Petersen (1931-2007)

The ten basic principles of safety culminate in these last two safety management principles:

Principle #9: the safety system should fit the (management) culture of the organization.

The safety program should be autocratic if that is what management is.  It should be participatory if the organization is participatory.  If top management is laissez-faire, more visionary rather than action-oriented, the safety function will have to find out what will work in this kind of lackadaisical organization.

In some cases, depending on the situation, the safety effort will have to be directive, while in other cases, the participatory approach will be the most successful.  Laissez-faire is rarely appropriate because there is no structure to that way of doing things, and safety needs structure.

However management functions in any organization is how the safety program ought to funciton as well.  Otherwise the safety program will always be fighting against how things actually work in the establishment.

If the organization is dysfunctional, the people creating and implementing the safety program will have to find out what will work even though nothing else seems to work.

On the other hand, in reasonably well-managed organizations the safety program needs to align with the rest of the management structure.  That is where success reigns.

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Principle #10: there is no one right way to achieve safety in an organization; however, for a safety system to be effective, it must meet certain criteria.  The system must:

  • (Obtain) supervisory performance
  • Involve middle management
  • Have top management visibly show their commitment
  • Have employee participation
  • Be flexible
  • Be perceived as positive

The six attributes of principle #10 provide the essentials for what all safety programs should include.  Goals and objectives are nice, but are only comprised of hot air if not implemented from the top of the organization throughout the enterprise.  All levels of management and supervision must be involved.  Employees must participate.  The safety program belongs to everyone only if everyone has some part in ensuring a safe workplace.

Many safety programs create a negative environment with rules, regulations, enforcement and discipline.  The most successful safety programs are positive.  People are recognized for doing what is wanted.  They are coached and counseled when they need help.  The right thing is done when necessary and the right thing might be different given varying scenarios.

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For More Information:
To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain 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. Once this certification is achieved, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

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