Management, how involved are you?

| OSHA, USF Safety Florida

I could reference multiple sources regarding the importance of management involvement in a safety management system and developing a safety culture. However, I believe sharing an experience would better get the point across.

I worked with a company years ago that had over ten recordable injuries, some of which included lost time. When I met the contact, they asked that I close the door so no one could hear our conversation. This was a “red flag” that something was amiss. The contact reluctantly communicated that several supervisors and managers were allowed to run their departments how they wanted, and the owner did not enforce safety equally. I included this in my report and blamed upper management, which did not go over well. I obliged when the owner wanted to speak to me regarding the report. During the meeting, I made it clear that injuries could continue to occur without upper management involvement and equal safety policy enforcement. Not only would this cause the company’s workers’ compensation cost and modification rate to increase, but it could also escalate the severity of the injuries. I immediately expected “push back” but was surprised when I saw the look of acceptance and understanding on the owner’s face. We ended the meeting on a good note, and I thought that was the end of this story. However, a year later, the safety representative contacted me for another visit. I was unsure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised that the company had significantly updated the safety management system that included equal enforcement of the company policy. As a result, the employer incurred two non-loss-time injuries over the previous year. 

Can I take credit for the company’s turnaround? Of course not. I only identified the deficiency. The safety representative took the risk to speak up, and the owner chose to listen, which changed the company’s outlook on safety, resulting in a  rapid, positive change. 

So, my question to management, owners, and CEOs is, what are you doing? 

  • Are you giving total support by providing financial means and delegating authority to your safety representative or team?
  • Do you require everyone to comply with safety policies? 
  • Are you involved in safety meetings and the safety committee?
  • Are you personally following safety rules and leading by example?
  • Do you have an open-door policy?
  • Do you demonstrate concern for the welfare of your employees?

If you need assistance and recommendations on improving your safety management systems and your role in the process, submit a request for a FREE consultation from USF SafetyFlorida at