Congratulations! You've worked long and hard. Armed with the commitment and support of both line and management employees, you've achieved compliance with OSHA/EPA and company requirements. You've spent countless hours conducting work site analyses, auditing, cheerleading and assuring that hazard prevention measures and controls are in place. At last you've achieved compliance with regulations and requirements! It's time to celebrate, pat each other on the back and take a breather. Or is it?

Of course you and your team deserve a chance to bask in the glow of your accomplishment, feeling proud of what you've achieved together. But in fact, now is when the really hard work begins. The larger, ongoing challenge is continuing to excel once an objective measure of excellence has been attained.

It's Human Nature

It is common that, after reaching a sought-after goal, we often redirect our attention and energy elsewhere, typically towards another objective. Or thinking things are now handled, we kick back, abandoning the very efforts that helped us reach that goal. Either can signal the beginning of a deterioration in performance.

Our company was asked to implement our attitudinal and behavioral improvement process at a large research and development site of a major chemical company that had achieved compliance with the standards and requirements similar to those sited above. Site leadership was perplexed. Why, they wondered, following a period of remarkably low injury and illness rates, did their performance appear to slide, with accidents, injuries, and health incidents on the rise?

We determined that performance began to drop off shortly after compliance had beenachieved. The perception was that, now that the facility was in compliance, safety and health were somehow being "handled" and that the rigorous attention that had been put into place during the compliance process was no longer necessary.

How, then, do you move successfully beyond achieving any goal or objective i.e. OSHA Star Certification or other regulatory and company compliance to a level of awareness and proactivity that keeps all levels of employees interested and motivated to maintain health, safety and environmental (HSE) excellence for the long haul? We believe the key is in assuring that a high level of HSE performance is not only embodied as a company value, but is held as a personal value by every employee.

This article explores the primary factors that can cause an erosion of performance, and suggests what is needed to sustain performance and break through to the next level of excellence.

We have found from our experience working with a variety of companies over the past 27 years that key to ensuring a high level of self-motivated and self-generating employees is ensuring that their attitudes and values reflect a personal belief in the benefit of safe, healthy and environmentally sound practices for themselves, their co-workers, families, communities and planet.

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