1) Executives must lead by example in the area of safety as well as every other aspect of ethical business. This includes, for example, the correct wearing of appropriate PPE in the workplace. One minor lapse observed by persons two levels down in the organization will undo untold other positive efforts to achieve excellence in workplace safety.
2) Executives must verbally communicate about safety in meetings with other managers. While what people do is sometimes more telling than what they say, it is the rare executive who can effectively lead without verbal articulation of his position on the matter. What executives say to each other one-on-one about safety while safety staff or other support staff is not present speaks volumes and has the greatest effect on crucial aspects of company culture.
3) Executives must put their money where their mouths are and fund safety adequately. This does not mean employing arbitrarily large staffs of SH&E professionals. Instead, it means in all business decisions that executives seek to treat the safety of all employees as the ethical right thing to do, a prudent act use of corporate funds and of corporate governance, and an intangible factor of business relationships that is almost always also a good investment.
4) Executives must hold their subordinates accountable for managing safety and must require that subordinates report on safety matters. Make sure that the roles and responsibilities for safety and health are defined (in writing and in practice). Doing so is part of treating safety just like any other important part of the business. Safety should be simply part of an overall performance measurement process.
5) Executives must provide appropriate feedback regarding safety performance. Monitor the results of management system audits and provide feedback. Personally praise exceptional performance, ignore average performance and confront substandard performance on the part of subordinate operations managers/supervisors. Realize that human exposure to injury risk has an element of randomness and may not be well described by current statistical analysis methods such as the frequency rate of recordable, reportable or lost-time injuries. Therefore, acknowledge and appropriately reward efforts in risk-reduction even if short-term injury results are poor.
6) Executives must make sure that the risk profile of the organization is continuously improved. New hazards and potential risks to the business (not just safety or health) are introduced continuously, and large corporations that are good managers of risk will be successful in the long term. When something bad happens—and it will—get to the root cause and try to systemically build in whatever must be feasibly done to ensure that it won’t happen again.
7) Executives of organizations that use potentially toxic materials must ensure that there is long- term support for the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of industrial hygiene in the organization. The past actions or inactions of corporations in the developed world are judged today by a society with extremely high expectations as compared to even the recent past. One can safely assume that societal norms for a safe and healthy work environment will continue to increase in the future in all countries of the world.
8) Executives must ensure that safety and health processes are being fully integrated into the primary management system processes of the business. Safety and health cannot be effectively managed long-term separate from the management of the routine affairs of the business. In today’s companies, this includes the deep integration of safety and health matters into systems such as the enterprisewide management software and process control systems.