Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Doing the Right Thing: (And Doing It Successfully): For Many People, the Very Word "Compliance" Conjures Up Negative Feelings

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Doing the Right Thing: (And Doing It Successfully): For Many People, the Very Word "Compliance" Conjures Up Negative Feelings

Article excerpt

Some EHS professionals strongly object to the amount of regulation in their industry, or to specific requirements. Others are frustrated by the hoops that must be jumped through to prove compliance. A fairly common attitude is that compliance is a necessary evil--a way to motivate corporate and individual behavior that's all stick and no carrot.

I want to leave aside compliance in those terms and discuss something more positive, and more important: that old intangible known as "doing the right thing."

Almost all of us are given this directive from an early age by parents, teachers, religious leaders and other mentors. It may manifest as a specific behavior, or as something general like the Golden Rule. The definition of "right thing" may vary depending on moral, philosophical or cultural values, but what's noteworthy is that this ideal has become much more prevalent in business and the media in the last decade. Corporate ethics, social responsibility, green initiatives--clearly, businesses are paying more attention than ever to doing the right thing. And that's a good thing.

However, wanting to do the right thing is just the start of the journey. Good intentions need to be translated into good actions. In the world of EHS, risk management, HR and related functions, that means implementing effective programs that achieve measurable results.

Implementing effective programs is particularly important to us at PureSafety. Our company was founded in response to a workplace fatality at Thompson Machinery--the only one in its 60-year history. They were doing the right thing--formal safety programs, dedicated safety resources, a strong safety culture--but this accident led senior management to ask, "How can we do more to improve safety programs and prevent another tragedy?" In a real sense, PureSafety is an ongoing answer to that question.

Partnering with over 1,000 organizations in over 20 major industries has given us some good insights regarding what it takes to turn wanting to do the right thing into doing the right thing successfully.

Knowledge Delivery and Employee Development--Sometimes, doing the right thing involves common sense behaviors like keeping a work area clean or responding promptly to an injury. But often it requires knowledge that is more complex and technical. We're not born knowing proper management of confined spaces, for example, or how many rescue breaths and chest compressions should be given when administering CPR.

Before we can do the right thing, we must know what the right thing is, and how best to do it. …

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