I tried many different strategies during my career to ensure that we had a 24/7 safety attitude. I learned that if our people just turned the safety switch on when they came to work and then shut it back off when they left, then we just had compliance and not commitment.

Extending our safety processes to off-the-job activities seemed like a good way of getting this kind of 24/7 commitment engagement. Our last go around involved having a monthly off-the-job topic sponsored by a senior executive in the company. The message included tips and tricks for staying safe and wherever possible we linked to public safety campaigns which were already underway.  

One of the pure business reasons for getting involved in off-the-job safety at Imperial Oil Exxon-Mobil Canada came from our database reality that the ratio of off-the-job injuries to on-the-job injuries was 28X. 

In other words, an Imperial Oil employee was 28 times more likely to be hurt off-the-job. In turn this meant a string of all bad consequences: lost time, lost productivity, arranging coverage, personal and family pain, etc., etc., etc.  

I found this same off-the-job reality is addressed within Dr. Dan Petersen’s Safety Perception Survey, under both the ‘Awareness’ and ‘Safety Climate’ indicators of an organization’s in depth safety culture.

We have used a number of standard templates to get the off-the-job messages to be consistently and effectively communicated. The process includes a calendar that adds more structure to this awareness initiative as well as monthly poster templates which provide details. The templates were based on my experiences with plenty of variety in the final products.

In time, this Off-the-Job Safety Module was embedded in the ExxonMobil Fundamentals of Safety (EMFOS) program. Ultimately, off-the-job safety became one of the 16 formal modules being taught in the four-day course for managers and supervisors.

This focus makes sense from both a humanitarian perspective as well as a business perspective. The reality being: in a strong safety culture we don’t want to have anyone get hurt. And yes, from a financial standpoint, both on-the-job and off-the-job injuries definitely have an impact on the bottom line. 

An authentic safety culture must not be compartmentalized solely to worksite issues.