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Safety conversations are not just for World Safety Day

Jane Mitchell

Every day around the world 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – that’s more than 2.3 million deaths per year. 317 million accidents occur on the job annually; many of these resulting in extended absences from work. The human cost is vast, and the economic burden is estimated at 4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product each year.

‘Safety is our number one priority’ or similar messages are a regular broadcast from many organisations. But just saying it. Doesn’t deliver it. In reality, for safety to be an organisation’s number one priority it has to be every director’s, every senior leader’s, every manager’s, every team leader’s number one priority too.

We know from our work with a range of organisations that the fundamental way for leaders to demonstrate that safety really is the priority is to ensure that they are having the right conversations about safety at every level in their business. From the conversation at board level about safety considerations of our long-term business strategy and investment planning, to the shift hand over conversation about the risks we face today and how we will manage them.

Those conversations have to be much more than senior leaders patting themselves on the back for the number of days without an LTI, and they are more than a team leader reading out a dull, sheep dip toolbox safety talk to their team. The conversations that matter are the ones that are a natural part of how we talk about the work in our business. As natural as talking about productivity, cost, quality, customers and delivery.

All the work we do is focused on supporting organisations to shift their safety culture so that safety is part of their day-to-day conversations – not just a conversation for World Safety Day.

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