How do you balance safety and efficiency?

“Ask Approach” recently had the chance to talk with Steve, a professional safety consultant, about a variety of workplace safety topics. Here’s our first interview with Steve — look for more to come in the next few weeks!


Ask Approach: One question we get from our employers is, “How do we take care of workplace safety and still get the job done?”


Steve: We’re often tempted to separate safety and efficiency, but I believe the balance is NOT to separate the two. Instead, look at them as equal parts of your work product because your business needs both to be successful.


Ask Approach: That’s true, but safety doesn’t come as naturally to many business owners. If I’m a plumber, I started my business to excel in plumbing, how do I bring the safety part along?


Steve: A good start is to make it a habit to think about safety. So, whenever you’re planning for your business, which could be a strategic plan, next year’s budget, or getting projects on the calendar, safety needs to be part of the plan. It goes right along with quality, schedule, and cost.


Ask Approach: What’s an example of how safety can actually improve the way we get our work done?


Steve: I’ll give you two examples:

The first example is when your company starts a new job site or opens a new facility, walk the site and determine layout, staging, and storage. As you’re doing the job-site review, you can implement what is known as the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), i.e. you identify the task, the hazards and corrective action.   You can do the JHA at the same time as you walk the site.  You’re creating/planning a workplace that’s both safe and set-up to get the job done.


Ask Approach: And, because the Job Hazard Analysis is a recommended part of Accident Prevention Programs, aren’t you checking off a regulatory requirement at the same time?


Steve: Exactly!

The second example is a local roofing company that adds anchor points for their fall protection whenever they put a new roof on. Some companies provide this as a complimentary service while some could put this in the bid. The customer actually pays for it. Many customers are happy to do this because they don’t want anyone hurt. They know any future work will be done more quickly and easily because the anchors are already there. So, it can save money down the road.


Ask Approach: How do you get employees on-board with safety?


Steve: It’s like I said earlier, safety needs to become an everyday part of what you do; so it’s part of your work product. If you have employees who take pride in a good finished product, they’re also going to take pride in working safely. The bottom line these days is that a job hasn’t been done well unless it’s also done safely.

That roofing company who installed anchor points, know they’re one of the best around. Their crews notice when the competition is doing things that aren’t up to the standards they’ve set for themselves. Your employees are going to appreciate being a cut above the rest.


Ask Approach: These are great tips, but what should readers do if they’re still not sure how to take the first step?


Steve: They can always call Approach and request a safety visit for us to come out and help get them started. We offer all of our clients an annual visit at no charge. But, I also suggest starting with the JHA (Job Hazard Analysis) and then using your safety committee and/or safety meetings to gain ideas from employees to increase safety and efficiency.