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Make a New Year's Safety Resolution

New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap — and usually deservedly so. Eating better, exercising, or giving up smoking for a few weeks in January before reverting to your previous “bad” habits has little or no long term benefit (beyond, perhaps, frustration).

Maybe it would be easier to focus on resolutions that are “one and done”. Do something good (or good for you) once in January, then be done with it until next January. On the personal front, maybe it’s finally cleaning your basement, donating your gently used old things to charity, or getting that physical you’ve been putting off for so long. Any of those things done once in January would leave you better off for months to come (depending, I suppose, on the results of that physical…).

So what if we apply this technique to occupational safety? There are so many things in the safety profession that need to be done always and without fail such as: wearing your PPE; following LOTO procedures; and, completing periodic safety training. Is there anything that you could do once a year (that’s not already otherwise required by statute or regulation) that would make your organization safer?

If a client asked me for the one thing they could do once in January that had the best shot at making them safer for the rest of the year, I’d suggest that they gather their leadership team and spend an hour or so thinking about and ranking all of the safety risks their employees face throughout the year. Dig deep and rank risks in order of severity of consequence and frequency of exposure (when I conduct this exercise with my safety clients, I use a heat mapping matrix). Try and move away from lagging metrics (historic injury rates), and think more in terms of what might happen.

Once you’ve got your rankings, spend another hour talking about things you are doing (or could/should do) to mitigate risks even further. Better yet, discuss completely eliminating high risk activities (e.g., contracting out confined space entries).

Wishing you a happy (and hopefully safer) New Year in 2017!


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