Historically, organizations enact safety policies and regulations in direct response to major incidents. If management is proactive they can eliminate incidents. Due to resistance to change from within the organization, however, only a moderate amount of success is actually attainable with this approach.
The next step in eliminating “at risk” behavior is to involve and empower all employees in the process of safety management. Coaching is the key to taking an organization from a proactive safety culture to an interactive one. However, Safety Professionals must involve front-line supervisors, developing them into coaches, because safety professionals can’t do it all.
Today’s safety professionals must not only take on a coaching role within their organization, effective safety program management often requires them to act as a referee. The concept of incorporating a referee approach to safety may not be a bad thing. Protecting athletes (employees) from not only their opponents, but also their coaches. Like management, coaches want to win. But at what cost? Is it worth sidelining your best player to win a big game? Just like referees enforce regulations/rules in order to keep the game fair and safe, safety professionals must do the same in their organization. Lastly, the best referee is the one you don’t remember.