An organization's middle managers can—and should—be the greatest advocates for the safety of the front line personnel. Openness to new technologies and best practices is key to that advocacy, as well as a defining characteristic of a robust safety system designed for continuous improvement.
the pillars of your company
While the front line employees are the foundation upon which your company is built, mid-level management are the pillars, supporting executive leadership's roof above and connecting them to the employee foundation below. Each of these three components are necessary for a strong and healthy organizational structure.
But differing roles and responsibilities may lead to differences in the way that employees and company management perceive and advocate for safety.
Therefore, it is crucial that all levels of a company share a perspective and commitment to the organization's values, most important of which is, of course, safety and health. Leaders at all levels can affect a positive safety culture within the structure and ensure that considerations for health and safety are present in all company processes at all levels. In a strong organizational culture committed to safety, the commitment provides a path to openness and engagement with new safety interventions, including new tools, technologies, and processes rooted in best practices.
Introducing anything new to an organization can prove challenging. When buy-in is low, implementing beneficial safety measures rarely goes smoothly. But change is inevitable, and mid-level management's position, joining the leadership ceiling to the worker foundation, is crucial in keeping the structure intact while change and disruptions occur. Mid-managers are primary agents of change and can, as pillars of your company, keep the structure strong and intact by supporting the process for managing the change.
But what makes implementing change difficult? One very common reason is that sometimes managers or leaders are hesitant about adopting new safety tools and measures because they have no historical precedent or are not yet in widespread use. But seat belts, hard hats, safety harnesses, high-visibility apparel, or drug tests were new once too. Considering that these things are now staples of health and safety and human resources processes, hesitancy in adopting new tools is likely based in misaligned commitments or perceptions regarding change or about safety.
knowing is greater than assuming
Another common reason that change is difficult are differences of opinion about whether the safety system deserves improvement at all, especially when incidents and accidents have historically been rare or minor. But the problem is that most of the time, safety systems are only subject to improvement after incidents have occurred, because the incidents exposed a loophole or oversight in the safety system. Or, worse, only the employee involved is blamed, and improving the system is not even considered. These are signs of an immature safety system in need of considering continuous improvement principles, including implementing new safety measures.
Predictive Safety's philosophy is that, with an analytical approach and the right technologies, loopholes and unseen flaws in a safety system can be addressed preemptively, before they can pose risks and lead to safety incidents and lost productivity. Put plainly:
- You don't have to wait for a safety incident to discover and address a safety risk; and
- Having avoided incidents in the past doesn't mean your safety system has eliminated all potential risks.
Understanding that middle managers serve as pillars maintaining proper organizational structure as well as liaisons between the front line and the executive leadership is key to overcoming difficulties implementing new and emerging safety measures. Companies owe it to their employees to remain open and continuously evaluate their efforts in ensuring everyone goes home in the same condition they were in when they arrived at work.
Tools like AlertMeter® and PRISM™ can help give employees, managers, and company leaders equal perspective on the workforce's fitness for duty every day. It is easy to be skeptical about the value of introducing and implementing change, and change can be intimidating. But change is inevitable, and embracing change toward a safer and healthier workforce requires managers to be champions and advocates for their employees' well-being. As primary change agents, middle managers should be equipped with the tools and knowledge that can increase their ability to influence and maintain a positive safety culture.
Think your company's safety system can't be better and do more? In fact, there are safety and productivity gains you could still unlock by managing fatigue and impairment. Let's chat!