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Safety Culture – Vision As a Major Trait of Safety Leadership

In this article, we will refine our discussion on developing the foundation for a successful safety process and “Vision” that is necessary to establish an effective safety culture. Within this process, Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) provides a methodology to determine the various risks, hazards, and needed controls at the micro-level. However, a larger Macro-level of thought must be considered and this requires having a Vision of what you want to achieve.

In a previous article, we discussed why you should define what your safety process should look like structurally using ANSI Z10 as an example. We posed two questions:

  1. Do you just want to be in compliance with regulatory requirements, or
  2. Do you want to build a true safety culture that will sustain itself and have a long term impact on an organization?

Vision Few of us have truly established a real vision of what we want to accomplish, let alone develop a sense of purpose in establishing our Vision. Steven Covey said it best with one of his Seven Habits that we should “begin with the end in mind.”

In Covey’s various books, he strongly recommends having a point of reference that one can periodically check against and correct the course towards your ultimate destination. From our point of view, if you do not know where you are going, then how do you know when you have gotten to the right point. Think about it this way: We all, at some point in time, have written our goals down and successfully have achieved what we set out to accomplish. However, as time goes by, we may continue to have goals that are accomplished but do not develop a real sense of purpose or fulfillment.

Our experience as clearly voiced by Covey is that goals and objectives are a subset of Vision, as having a vision is more than goals and objectives and these should work in tandem. In an effort to continue to help define a vision, the importance of knowing where you want to be at a future point in time is very important. Therefore, a Vision is what you want to bring into reality or create; it is where you want to be at some defined time in the future. Once the vision provides the direction, a sense of purpose can begin to develop. If your vision is to have a self-sustaining process and an effective safety culture then you must establish a path to that destination by defining the goals needed and the objectives necessary. The resources required can then be identified, assessed, and a cross-functional team enlisted that can get the vision accomplished.

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