In a perfect world, everybody does the right thing, the right way, all the time, for the right reasons, on the road to zero injuries and incidents. But unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and injuries often do happen. And when they do, while the financial impact can be crippling, the human costs are much greater.

As leadership teams continue seeking ways to improve their safety performance and reduce their compliance costs, many delegate responsibility to middle managers to evaluate the elements of their safety performance programs and make adjustments. With these managers more focused on daily operations, they seem to be the obvious choice to drive safety performance, right? 

While this may seem to be the case, savvy corporations recognize the importance of having top leadership teams engaged in driving safety performance. The reason? With their middle management teams focused on maintaining daily operations, leadership teams have both the knowledge and corporate clout to efficiently champion larger corporate changes. As a result, they can drive strategic safety initiatives, while relying on management teams to effectively deploy and implement these initiatives in a way that is inclusive of all employees.

Yet the question remains, how do you get leadership engaged in safety performance?

Flip Leadership's Priorities

Engaging leaders to drive safety performance comes down to flipping their priorities. Traditionally, the primary focus of corporate leaders is on lowering costs, increasing revenue and customer satisfaction, etc., not increasing their employees' engagement in safety.

The irony of this approach is that leaders can flip their funnel of priorities to put their employees first while still achieving their other goals. How is this accomplished?

It's as "simple" as getting leadership on board to motivate and engage with their employees on the importance of safety performance. While this can be done in a variety of ways, two distinct ways that top leaders can propel and promote your corporate safety program are accountability and continuous learning.

Creating a Culture of Accountability

One way to create accountability for safety performance is two-way communication practiced by both employees and top leaders. From an employee perspective, accountability requires the proper reporting and documentation of all incidents and other concerns, including injuries and near misses. This information ensures that leadership has insights into day-to-day operations.

For leadership, accountability requires taking action on the information provided by employees and using it to enact larger corporate change. This includes both reactive changes to alter processes and procedures to prevent future incidents, as well as proactive changes to address near misses and employee concerns before they cause injuries.

By operating within this two-way accountability model, both leadership and employees can benefit from more open lines of communication surrounding workplace safety. This communication ultimately will lead to improved trust between employees and leadership. As a result, employees will be more confident that their comments and reports will be seen and acted upon by leadership, while leadership teams will have the information they need to help their companies grow and evolve while embracing safety as a value.

Such practices can go a long way in getting both employees and leadership actively engaged in driving safety performance, resulting in a reduction of workplace injuries and a reduction in compensation costs.