Production vs. Safety: Which do YOU care about?

When it comes to managing your business, priorities have to be established. Often times, it can seem that these priorities are at odds with each other, as is the case when prioritizing safety vs. production. What do you do when you have to simultaneously think about your business’ bottom line (and staying afloat in a still struggling economy), while at the same time making your workplace as safe as possible, which can sometimes slow down production itself? Where does the right balance fall?

An EHS Today survey from august 8th has helped to illustrate that this as a problem that plagues management across a whole plethora of sectors – you’re definitely not alone if you’re struggling with these issues. While the survey concluded that a majority of respondents saw their workplace safety as improved over past measurements, there were still some problems. In general, the main qualms fell into two categories:


One of the complaints registered by respondents was that the people enacting policy were not the ones down on the ground floor, and thus remained disconnected with conditions for the everyday worker. Workers saw management as a separate entity that was not able to identify with workers and respond to safety concerns in a timely manner. In short, managers don’t listen to their employees.

Lack of Action

The main complaint category is far more dangerous, and involves management actions (or lack thereof) that seem to imply an apathy or uncaring nature when it comes to safety. Many managers were seen as being more concerned with production than with safety, and let this attitude show in their handling of possible safety hazards. Even when identified, workplace dangers may not have been dealt with in a timely manner, if at all.

When looking at your own operation and the manager/safety relationship, it is important to imply accountability on part of the management when it comes to safety. Workers are concerned about safety because it directly affects them, and hazards where they work put them at risk every single day. Someone sitting and overseeing from an office may need some incentive to make the problem more immediate. Many companies have implemented bonuses and perks for management that maintain a good track record with safety and proactively create a safe environment for their employees. It is ideal to have management that can inherently see the value in a safe work place, but incentives to stay on top of things can be a good way to make the issue of safety more immediate for those not actually carrying out the labor.

Keeping Score

The companies with the best safety records keep track of everything; from near misses, to observations submitted, to regular safety check ins, these items begin to form the baseline of your company’s safety performance. As you implement regular or annual safety checks and surveys, you can look at these in comparison to your baseline to see which areas have improved, or which may have slipped. This record keeping can at first seem tedious, but is the bread and butter of health and safety performance and can greatly improve your company down the road.

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