Recently, one of our safety pro acquaintances made a disturbing discovery --his responsibility for improving safety was being hampered by a culture of evaporative acts in the work groups with whom he was to meet. His approach of engaging in open-ended safety conversations with front line employees had developed trust among many of the people at each of the work sites. As he did a casual one-on-one with the workers he was surprised to hear that there were two sets of safety rules:
- When the crew knew a safety vehicle was sighted or when a safety resource was scheduled to do a drive-by evaluation, front line employees were stringent about following all the PPE and procedure rules
- When the crew was not bothered by the safety cop visits, there was a get ‘er done attitude that lacked the correct safety culture
When the safety resources were present, the lackluster safety realities almost magically “evaporated” and all the safety correct culture items and attitudes were donned, but only temporally. The results of this kind of evaporative acts culture include:
- A false sense of security that inevitably leads to injuries
- A realization that as long as front line supervisory leadership does not take the initiative to address safety issues the safety professional remains trapped in a reactive mode of correcting safety incidents.
Another realization he had was the need to provide the strong leadership necessary to improve the front line safety culture. A current initiative is to develop and live a safety culture that embodies the following:
- If you see it, you own it
- Do it safe, do it right all the time
- Stop, think and act correctly
Are evaporative acts a weakness of your organization’s safety culture?