Safer Times: The Good Day's Work Blog

How To Use Goal Setting To Move Your 2018 Safety Program Forward

Posted by Marty Huseman on Dec 14, 2017
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December is upon us and it’s time to look at your safety program for 2018. With everything you’ve accomplished in 2017, what is going to move your program forward for 2018? 

When I managed a fast growing company earlier in my career, goal setting made a crucial impact on the success. It forced me to look much further out into the future, envision where the company could go and create how we were going to get there. No matter where you are today with your safety program, moving your program forward is key to lowering workers’ compensation claims, improving employee safety IQ and having active participation in developing safety culture.

 Let’s look at 3 steps to consider when putting the 2018 goals and plans together.

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Step 1.  Candidly Assess Where You are Today


It is important to have a process to refer to, to move your safety program forward. To move forward, we need to look at what has happened this year. Please don’t rush through this portion or become defensive as to why a goal wasn’t reached. Stay objective and use this information to learn and plan for 2018.  Be objective in what went well, what went wrong and pay attention to patterns, good and bad. 

  Safety Culture – Take a hard look at where your safety culture is today.  The DuPont Bradley Curve is a useful tool to help you assess or gauge where your organization falls along the curve.  It defines several stages of evolution in safety culture improvement, from reactive, to dependent, to interdependent to ultimately interdependent. Listen to your leaders as well as employees and gauge whether safety enters their daily language or not.

  Management Commitment to Safety – Gauge where your management leaders are in supporting safety and safety culture. Your assessment should be immediate. If you can’t say in a moment you have full support, you have your answer.  Managers have a moral obligation to keep people safe as well as understand the roll safety plays in lower workman’s compensation costs, increased productivity and positively affecting the bottom line.

  Completed Training for 2017 – Assess employee training for 2017. What training were employees assigned and completed (group or individual). What training went well and where were employees missed? Were you able to train on all the topics you planned?  Were there times of the year that were more difficult to complete training than others?  This is an objective assessment as to what safety training was accomplished for 2017.

  Hazard Analysis 2017Hazard analysis is where hazards are identified, causes determined, and the amount of risk determined. Were your key findings either controlled or mitigated in some way? If so, what were the success factors in getting them eliminated or reduced.  Likewise, were there areas that were not addressed?  What prevented them from getting reduced or controlled?  Review your hazard assessment report, was it started and not completed?  Was it effective in mitigating hazards that were identified?

  Tracking and Measurement – Safety training and risk mitigation should be benchmarked so that you can track whether progress is being made. How is your organization doing?  Are you keeping track of injuries, near misses and hazard mitigation? Have you documented all the training and kept an attendance sheet?  OSHA wants to see documented proof of trainings. Are you prepared for an OSHA inspection?  Do you keep a monthly total of injuries?  Claims that had lost time and medical claims that were only medical?  Do you track types of injuries and what caused injuries?  These simple metrics can be your safety barometer. These meaurements should be shared with management, supervisors and employees.  


Step 2A. Identify Future Safety Goals for 2018


Progress is not possible without change.

  Safety Culture – Use the DuPont Bradley Curve mentioned above as a benchmark, what could your group accomplish by the end of 2018?  Keep in mind a goal will take you and others outside a comfort zone and impose some change. The goal of the Bradley curve is to move people from left to the right to reduce total injuries and have employees looking out for one another. Be specific on what will affect change and get safety involved in more conversations. List two key 1-2 goals.

  Management Commitment to Safety – Are all managers and supervisors on board with safety?  If not, identify the weak links and seek to determine the root cause or reason for the lack of enthusiasm to support the overall vision to reduce injuries. Set your goal to get everyone on board with safety initiatives or take them to a higher level.  Identify 1-2 goals to gain total management and supervisor commitment.

  Completed Training for 2018 This is an area where you can be very specific. Make your list and support it with the reasons it is important. A completed list needs manager and supervisor buy in. The better they understand the need for specific training, the better they can support the initiatives in reaching the company goals. Set one major goal.

  Hazard Assessment 2018 – Hazard assessment is an ongoing process from year to year. You are either working to control a risk or working to mitigate the hazard.  Set your goals to assess and address the hazards in the workplace. Seek a higher level of assessment than in 2017.  Wherever you struggled last year, set your goal to a higher level whatever it or they may be.

  Tracking and Measurement for 2018 Having good information in tracking past performance is paramount to making progress.  Accurate tracking and measurement help us to evaluate, control, budget, motivate, promote, celebrate, learn and improve. If you don’t know where you’ve been, it’s impossible to move forward. If there has not been tracking in the past, you now have your benchmark. Have a goal to accurately and simply track each of the four topics above so you can use this information to set 2019 goals more accurately.


Step 2B. Goal Setting Tips


A widely popular goal setting process is called SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym that you can use a guide for your goals. 

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic, results-based)
  • Time Bound (time-based, time limited, time-sensitive)

There are many goal setting processes and techniques available - find a goal setting technique that works for you and use it.  Here are some key elements I use in regard to goal setting: 

  • Keep the total amount of goals for a job role / person to no more than 7 (research shows that a human can't handle more than this)
  • Write your goals down, be specific, have them measurable and have a deadline
  • Force yourself outside your comfort zone and make them compelling
  • Keep goals visible and known to all employees, report periodically to chart progress 


Step 3. Plan to Achieve Your Goals


Now that you’ve made your assessments and set goals to move your safety program forward, it’s time to develop a plan to make your goals achievable. For each of the goals develop a plan.  This is where the detail will come in. You may not have all the answers today as you make the plan, the plan is an ongoing process to help you achieve the goals. 

  • Develop 3-4 items that need to be TRUE in order for your goal to be achieved
  • Identify the obstacles in your way
  • Determine the additional resources you'll need (knowledge, skills, help, etc)
  • Determine your reporting cadence to update progress and share with the team
  • Once a goal is written, identiify the next best action, take that action, and build momentum in the process
  • Share the goals 1 pager with the team
  • Keep goals infront of them with the reporting cadence developed above (to get everyone invested)

The key is to keep it simple and engage the team, so safety becomes part of the "measurement" culture. One last piece of advise: once you get approval/sign off, use this as a working document.  Do not put the plan on the shelf and visit it next December.


Let's Bring this Together


Use goal setting to provide the framework to move your 2018 safety program forward.  To set lofty but achievable goals for 2018, there must be an objective look at 2017. What worked, what did not and what progress was made in 2017. By understanding where you’ve been, you have the basis to setting goals to where your safety program can move for 2018. Pull a single document plan together and distribute it to all the managers.

When managers see the goals, have a plan and are regularly updated on the progress, they can better assimilate the plan, support the plan and communicate to their subordinates.  Keeping goals in front of managers, supervisors and employees and reporting on the progress will set safety deep into the company’s culture and create a safer workplace so everyone can Get Home Safe.

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Topics: safety culture, safety training program, productivity / goals / motivation

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