Thought LeadershipThe biggest thing preventing our safety cultures, performance and progress is the mindset of our leaders. Safety will never trickle up in an organization, never! Safety trickles down from the top through however many layers of management to the lowest level of the organization.

A safety performance improvement, paradigm shift, or culture change only happens when the very senior most leader put the change in motion and feeds it with genuine, continuous and significant support.

When safety really becomes important to the senior most leader it will flow through the organization to every level; top to bottom. Short of meaningful buy-in anything else is pushing the preverbal rope up the hill. Many leaders have put positive safety change in motion in every industry regardless of past history, level of danger or size of organization.

In a committed organization an incident rate of less than one is not unusual. In an organization lacking commitment an incident rate above ten is not unusual. STOP if you think that is the only indicator! Incident rate is only a trailing indicator at best, but it easily shows the exponential difference a committed leader can make.

Dan O’Brien, CSP, CRIS, CHS-V, ARM is currently Director - SHE for San Antonio Water System but is actively pursuing new opportunities in EHS, homeland security, infrastructure protection, or emergency management. He can be reached at 210-913-6777 or