How do you compare and why is good safety good business?

In this article Conor O’Malley, Global Safety Index (GSI), discusses the way forward for safety and the place of an organisation’s culture in achieving best practice.  

Do you often wonder how your safety performance compares to others? Where does your organisation sit globally?  What does a great safety culture look like?  Which organisations achieve great safety results and how do they do it? And where does safety really sit in the overall business strategy and value equation?

Conor O’Malley, Sales and Distribution Director for Global Safety Index, has spent his working life in the Supply Chain and most recently in Australia as the Chief Logistics and Procurement Officer for National Foods as well as the General Manager of Coles Logistics. In those roles having Executive accountability for Company and Divisional Safety his personal journey and appreciation of the business and cultural importance of Safety Leadership has grown. Due to this he is now, through Global Safety Index, supporting Corporate Australia ‘build a safer more productive world’.

He contends that for a long time we have relied on lag indicators of safety to show us the way forward. The time has come to collectively embrace a new way. A balanced scorecard of lag and lead indicators including Safety Culture and Safety Leadership indices is a better way to measure the content and execution of your safety strategy. Really, how can you measure your performance by driving forward and only looking in the rear view mirror?

Benchmarking your way to global best practice

If you want to go anywhere, you must first know where you are. Many organisations measure and compare safety performance internally; within organisations and sometimes through industry bodies looking at industry peers. Comparing and contrasting your safety performance can provide a much more relevant benchmark for organisations to truly understand their relative performance.

The GSI tool enables members to easily benchmark organisational safety performance against over 250 international organisations. This is done across a broad range of industries, specific industries, geography, revenue and organisation size. As well as allowing for a more detailed internal comparison permitting data to be captured and compared by function, years of experience and demographics.

Your safety culture roadmap

David Scott - Head of Environment, Health & Safety and Quality, Siemens Ltd. Australia, and a member of the Global Safety Index Community, states “A key goal in our company EHS strategy is to ‘build a constructive safety culture’. You can’t achieve that without deeply understanding where the culture is to begin with, beyond anecdotes, and working with GSI enabled us to do that in a cost-effective, robust and sustainable way” [i]

Years of research have now shown safety culture to be a reliable and robust predictor of safe behaviours, injury frequency rates, and injury severity rates[ii],[iii],[iv],[v]. Over 82% of managers rate “Culture” as the number one barrier to achieving improved safety performance. What is unknown, by many business leaders is which elements of culture they should focus on to address key safety challenges.

Getting from bad to average is relatively easy; getting from average to excellent is very difficult. This is well evidenced by the performance plateau being experienced by so many companies today. It is at this point that an organisation’s safety culture takes on profound significance[vi].

It is widely agreed that the way forward lies in an organisations’ safety culture. Your Safety Culture Index enables your organisation to objectively assess its strengths and weaknesses from a cultural perspective, benchmark cultural status against high performance cultures, then strategically prioritise and efficiently target resources.

Unlocking the ‘leadership key’

Formulated from detailed 180 degree surveys, your organisation’s Safety Leadership Index will enhance both personal understanding of current safety leadership performance as well as aggregate behaviour within and across relevant groups to provide a whole of Company view.

You can utilise your organisations comparative and trend data Safety Leadership Index to develop enterprise wide leadership programs, and assist individual leaders to develop personal action plans.

“Good Safety is Good Business”

The Safety strategy cannot and should not act in isolation from the overall business strategy, it is a core component of the overall business strategy to deliver both short and long term benefits.

Short Term Benefits:

  • Focus resources on hot spots to maximise return on investment and reduce unintentional resource wastage.

  • Understanding the actions taken by organisations with a similar profile (industry, maturity, size etc.) provides you with an opportunity to understand how a step change in performance can be achieved.

  • A clearer picture of known risks in the business

Long Term Benefits:

  • Improved safety performance against a balanced scorecard of lead and lag indicators

  • Increased employee engagement and reduced employee turnover and associated costs

  • Attain and retain ‘employer of choice’ status

  • Reduced percentage of direct and indirect business costs in monitoring, managing and enhancing safety, including workers compensation claim costs

Current Members of GSI achieving many of these benefits are in different sectors - Logistics, Utilities, Manufacturing, Retail and Construction.

For more information on Global Safety Index visit http://www.globalsafetyindex.com/


[i] David Scott - Head of Environment, Health & Safety and Quality Siemens Ltd. Australia (GSI Website http://www.globalsafetyindex.com/testimonials/)

[ii]  Zohar, D. (2009). Thirty years of safety climate research: Reflections and future directions. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 42, 1517-1522

[iii] Cooper, M. D., Phillips, R. A. (2004). Exploratory analysis of the safety climate and safety behaviour relationship. Journal of Safety Research, 35, 497-512.

[iv] Clarke, S. (2006). The relationship between safety climate and safety performance: A meta-analytical review. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 11(4), 315-327.

[v] Johnson, S. E. (2007). The predictive validity of safety climate. Journal of Safety Research, 38, 511-521.

[vi] Reason, J. (2000). Safety paradoxes and safety culture. Injury Control & Safety Promotion, 7(1), 3-14.


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