The purpose of this paper is to raise discussion amongst my peers on how we can continue to improve safety performance in the work place, given the many activities and improvement opportunities that have already been identified and implemented.

The paper is broken into three areas.

  • Briefly identifying where we have 'come from' in safety performance.

  • Consideration of the current position and challenges ahead, and, the main thrust of the paper.

  • Discussion relating to the 'gap' between supervision and employees

The Safety Practitioner, I believe, has a key role to play in bringing the supervisory and employee levels of the organisation together. This paper should generate thought and give ideas to attendees in addressing this issue of 'Bridging the Gap'. The 'gap' is an identified division between supervision (frontline in particular) and employees which is created by any number of reasons, some of which are identified and discussed in this paper.

Regardless of global location and industries in the western world, safety performance and statistics have been gradually improving over the past 10 - 20 years. This has been achieved through a number of different approaches and application of various tools, which when combined together have been pro-active in reducing accidents and incidents in the workplace (an additional carry over is the transportation of these ethics into the home). However there is room for improvement.

In Australia (and undoubtedly around the world) pro-active organizations are seeking alternative and additional ways in which to continue safety performance improvement. Focus on, and maintenance of, the systems and tools which have provided our current safety performance need to be continually promoted, implemented and refined. After all these systems and tools have delivered the results we have today. We often forget the things we have done well and assume they will maintain themselves, from time to time we get busy and engrossed in some specific aspect of our work, which in turn diverts our attention from other areas. Identifying opportunities for improvement in safety performance becomes more difficult the further we go.

In Australia some organizations are clearly performing better than others in safety performance. Identifying why these organizations perform better than others will perhaps give some insight into the potential improvement opportunities.

For many organizations, realization that they have a clearly negative division between supervision and employees is the first step. Identification of the actual barriers which are prime causes for this negative division will give the organization a direction in which to move.

This paper is not about delivering leadership models, but identifies key factors and drivers which should be considered and encompassed in the development of an appropriate leadership model.

The paper is not 'country or industry' specific, as the 'Gap' issues face all of us and reduction of this gap is one avenue to influence improvement trends in safety performance.

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