This article is titled 3 Attributes to World Class Safety, but it grew out of an article I wrote over twenty years ago titled "5 Stages to World Class Safety". In that article I pointed out that the journey to attaining world class safety performance starts with a clear understanding of where you have been, where you are today and where you are going if nothing changes. Then you can determine the changes that need to be made and the path that will get you to your goal. I noted then that not all organizations are willing to make the effort to get better. Below is a brief description of each stage of the journey. Remember that you are not alone others have taken the journey before you. Each organization will fit into one or a combination of stages.

Description of each stage:
1. Realization

Organizations in this stage usually see skyrocketing injury rates and "through the roof" worker compensation costs are prompting management to do "something". Governing bodies often conduct audits and identify areas of improvement to meet minimal compliance requirements. Consequences to non-compliance can be very costly. Financially the direct costs of loss time injuries are affecting overall profitability. Companies at this stage are at a legal risk and employees have a high risk of injury. Occasionally you will see a company much more advanced that this level simply come to the realization that they want to get even better at safety performance. In this case the company in question spans a number of stages but the realization that they need to do better is common in both situations.

2. Traditional

Companies at this stage of the process are still at risk of injury but are probably at a point where they are protected from most legal risk by Worker's Compensation sole remedy laws. There is minimal legal risk at this stage. Priorities are placed on developing policies and procedures and the education process begins. They haven't succeeded in changing behaviors yet and workers and management are still apt to do what is convenient for them. An increase in production and overhead costs results from having identified at risk conditions and taking appropriate steps to engineer out the hazards. Machine maintenance and repair, shielding and guarding derive from a reactive management approach - "we'll fix it when it's broken". Most stop their development at this stage.

3. Observation (process)

Management initiates an observation based safety program in addition to the traditional program and spends more time on the production floor or the worksite "observing" for hazards with compliance in mind. Concern for compliance is at the forefront of their minds and more adequate record keeping becomes a priority. Management drives the improvement process. There is little to no employee involvement at this stage because the observations are performed by management employees.

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