From time-to-time, every organization struggles with procedural justice and safety. And I’ve begun to anticipate such challenges when various safety climate scores indicate such a concern which may be further highlighted through interviews and focus groups.
When it comes to procedural justice in safety, every organizational member needs to know that fairness and consistency with safety-related discipline is necessary to uphold the integrity of the organization and to sustain employee safety engagement.
Procedural justice is often more clearly framed and tested when there is a serious incident and it is found that an important safety procedure or principle was not adhered to or was bypassed in some manner. Sometimes there are gray areas that were not clearly defined within the procedure, weaknesses in the way it was communicated, or because of challenges in applying or executing the procedure due to various environmental obstacles. Even more, scheduling issues may have pushed decisions that lead to various failures.
The bottom line, when it comes to a difficult decision with regard to procedural safety justice:
1) Listen to as many people as possible to fully understand what has occurred and why; 2) Show respect and concern for everyone involved; 3) Strive to be fair and consistent; and 4) Make decisions based on what is most right for the organization and explain why such decisions were made.
At times, it may be a challenge to be consistent and fair when safety procedures may have been breached. In the long-term, difficult decisions that use fairness as a guiding principle help to define your culture for safety and bring people together in more sustainable ways. Finally, always be fair - do what is right and just.