A perspective on workplace safety in 2016…

Safety professionals continue to build enduring cultures of safety to ensure the health and well-being of their workers. In 2016, the outlook for success amid the difficulties and opportunities of such efforts remains, in a word, positive, but with the caveat that the storm clouds of challenges we all know so well show no signs of dissipating.

As busy and rewarding and difficult as the past few years have been, expect the new year to be even more so. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect in terms of the good and the not-so-good:

1. Investments Are Paying Off

The good news is that corporate investments in safety, health and environmental (SHE) programs are paying off and will continue to do so on multiple levels.

According to a survey Honeywell conducted among safety professionals, most safety managers view the current state of their SHE programs – the foundation of every successful corporate culture of safety – as strong: defined as exemplifying best practices, achieving full compliance, working better than the rest or at least reaching general satisfaction. Few complain that their programs need major improvements.

2. Strong Support From the C-Suite

Corner office support is growing. In more and more companies, a thumbs-up enthusiasm for SHE efforts is growing, with support for a strong and enduring culture of safety emanating from C-level executives.

Senior management attention and support mean devoting the time and resources critical to the success of a corporate safety culture by ensuring that SHE programs are done correctly. While their executives are busy, many safety managers report that executives are devoting their attention to the cause when they can. Peer managers in other departments also are supportive. The result? Workers recognize commitment “from the top” and appreciate their company’s SHE program as an essential part of their own day-to-day work.

3. Safety Is Generating Dividends

Success is reaching the bottom line. Perhaps that corner office support is due to the recognition that a positive culture of safety generates dividends that extend well beyond worker safety. Safety managers know that positive safety results are reflected in the operational and financial performance of an organization.

In fact, many report a direct correlation between a strong SHE program performance and a solid financial performance.

4. Training Remains Critical

Training will continue to be a critical component of positive corporate safety cultures. To those safety professionals who see worker safety as their No. 1 goal – as opposed to those who see SHE programs as protection from corporate liability – safety training will continue to be considered nothing less than an essential investment in all programs.

Despite wide agreement on the value and goals of safety training programs, obtaining the resources needed for training remains a challenge for many, whether the training is done internally or provided by suppliers.

A positive, nurturing trend is the growing emphasis on behavior-based initiatives and programs. These are aimed at reinforcing safe behavior, versus efforts that merely focus on ensuring that employees know and follow rules and regulations. State-of-the-art training facilities featuring catwalks, climbing towers, confined space simulators, wind simulators and other equipment provide immersive experiences to simulate hazardous work environments in a range of industries.

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