Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Setting EHS Goals

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Setting EHS Goals

Article excerpt

Stephen G. Minter

It's not too early to be thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2002. If you're unskilled in the fine art of goal-setting these guidelines from Paul Hanlon can help.

If you're like us, you're already in the middle of planning season for 2002. For desk jockeys, planning is probably as close as we get to that inner child who liked to go in his father's garage and build something, hopefully with as many nails and as much noise as possible. Planning allows us to construct methods for achieving our goals, and those goals are the essential fuel for running our EHS activities.

What are your goals for next year? The OSH Act sets a legal goal for every business in America: "Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

While the operating goals that the U.S. government set 30 years ago remain important, it is really the safety goals we set for ourselves and our companies that are crucial. Those are the ones that motivate us to take action and do so enthusiastically.

Yet, far too many companies continue to see safety not as "their" issue, but as a duty imposed by the government. As a result, goals are based on OSHA compliance, not on the unique needs of a company's work environment and culture. Can you imagine that being the case with production or quality goals?

The products of this misdirected goal-setting frequently are mediocre safety programs, unnecessary injuries and illnesses, and immense frustration on the part of safety managers. For them, the pursuit of OSHA compliance becomes a shackle that ensures minimum safety standards and minimum budget support for safety. Moreover, it forces them to spend far too much time stewarding recordkeeping rather than working to unleash the energy and creativity of their work force to ensure a safe workplace.

In our last National Safety Survey (December 2000), one safety manager in Minnesota had it right when he reported that his sights were set on "making sure people are safe, not just meeting the 'standards.' The bottom line is, if your people are hurting, your program is not working."

In terms of our personal goals, Paul Hanlon, author of Strategies of an Ordinary Multimillionaire: Simple Ideas for Achieving Magical Success (888-528-2400), notes: "Before you can achieve any kind of business success, you first need to know what you're striving for. …

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