Safety Leadership Starts Here

Leading People Safely

If you are a leader who wants to do things right, Leading People Safely will help you become a better leader. Better yet, if you are a safety consultant, safety manager, work in loss control or risk management, this book will give you a practical framework or model to help setup a cutting-edge safety program.

Fielkow and Schultz’s central thesis is that an organization needs a strong “culture of prevention” to operate safely. “‘Safety’ is not a department.” And it should be not the function of the safety department to assume the responsibilities of management.

Fielkow and Schultz point out that management generally scores itself high on safety leadership—but the front-line workforce would often beg to differ. Leading People Safely presents a number of practical tools to help align perception and reality.

Leading People Safely

The quickest way to clear a room is to mention the words ‘safety’ or ‘leadership.’ The most common excuse is, “Really great ideas, but they won’t work here.” Fielkow and Schultz might retort, “Then try building a safety culture, not a cost culture.” (Chap. 1 & 2) We learn in Chap. 3 there are some things money can’t buy: Culture drives happiness. Culture is based on the 3 Ts: Treatment, Transparency and Trust to ensure employee engagement. To know safety, one must know accountability (Chap. 4), in all its flavors, on an individual level, organizational level, and pee-to-peer level. We’re not talking about compliance (Chap. 5), but overcoming at least 12 common safety challenges under the rubric of ‘Dysfunctional Creep.’ (Chap. 6) That ends Part I of the book. Then it gets better . . .

Part II: How to Build a World-Class Safety Culture

Fielkow and Schultz jump right in with a Case Study (Chap. 7) of a real mess that needed to be cleaned up. Safety, we find, is not a department, but, rather, the responsibility of management. Safety is leader driver (Chap. 8) requires Good Leadership Habits (Chap. 9), execution of your plan (Chap. 10), and a ‘Just Culture’ (Chap. 11) to sustain it. In these days of “Nuclear Verdicts” and over-zealous regulators, learn how to protect yourself and your organization (Chap. 12) while implementing change. Like management, employees, too, must own safety (Chap. 13). Vet and mentor your workforce (Chap. 14) while developing your managers (Chap. 15) It’s all about engagement (Chap. 16-17), even engaging the family. (Chap 18)

We find small safety events and incidents can be a precursor to something major. “Severity is a matter of luck.” (Chap. 19) Always do a Root-Cause Analysis. (Chap. 20). Learn how to build a safety “brand” inside your organization. (Chap. 21) Let employees write their own handbook. (Chap. 22), to help against “Normalization of Deviance,” (Chap. 23) On day one, have them sign a “Culture Contract” (Chap 24), specific to how your culture operates. Take advantage of new safety technologies (Chap. 25)

But any organization can start to wander off course, and when it does, sometimes a “Shock and Awe” move can put it back on track. (Chap. 26). Finally, help your workforce to develop a list of your organization’s Life-Critical Rules (Chap. 27).

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy by one of the authors.