Striving for safety excellence should be a top priority for every organization, regardless of its size, its type, or industry it serves.

It’s no easy task, but achieving safety excellence can provide a wealth of benefits. Not only does it reduce accidents, but it can lead to greater efficiency and productivity, ultimately improving a company’s bottom line.

According to David Edwards, product manager -- safety technology for Caterpillar, Inc., six criteria define organizational safety success today. Edwards recently shared his insights with attendees at this year's Product Safety & Compliance Seminar, which annually offers safety professionals in the equipment manufacturing industry the latest in standards, regulations and industry best practices.

The six criteria are as follows:

1. Top organizational leaders are visibly committed. – Does your company’s CEO or president come out and say he or she is committed to making safety a top priority? Until that happens, and organizational leadership commits – visibly, not just verbally – to its importance, your company will not achieve safety excellence.

2. Middle management is actively involved. – It’s not enough for middle managers to discuss the importance of establishing a safety culture in your organization and following your CEO or president’s lead, they need to be an active participant in improving safety, building a comprehensive safety program, and making sure everyone consistently adheres to it.

3. Frontline leaders are focused on performance. – Do key stakeholders within your organization have something to measure safety performance against? Are they achieving company-wide safety goals? Your company needs to have definitive answers to these questions, and frontline leaders are tasked to make sure metrics are in place to provide valuable insights related to safety. These metrics can provide objective data to ensure your organization is actually getting better at improving safety over time. Because without the ability to measure state of change, your company will always find itself in a perpetual state of non-improvement.

4. Everyone is part of the change. – Do people within your company just talk about the importance of safety, or are they involved in driving improvements and developing solutions to achieve organizational goals? There’s a big difference, and an organization cannot achieve safety excellence until its entire workforce resolves to work toward it.

5. Flexibility is key. – There are always going to be individuals within your organization who resist change, and it will negatively impact the company’s safety-related efforts. However, by embracing an organization-wide attitude of flexibility, such issues can be overcome.

6. Safety is positively perceived throughout the company. – If the first five characteristics apply to your organization, your company’s employees will appreciate the importance of safety and positively perceive it. Perhaps most importantly, though, organizational excellence will arise out of your company's safety-related activities.

More Information

The 2019 Product Safety & Compliance Seminar and Product Liability Seminar will be held April 29-May 2 in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information on the Product Safety & Compliance and Product Liability seminars, contact Nathan Burton, AEM technical and safety services manager (, tel: 414-298-4126). 

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