A Vision and Mission for Safety

By Crutchfield, Nathan; Waite, Michael | Occupational Hazards, September 1990 | Go to article overview

A Vision and Mission for Safety


Crutchfield, Nathan, Waite, Michael, Occupational Hazards


A VISION AND MISSION FOR SAFETY

Over the years of attempting to work with organizations in the area of risk control, several questions continue to develop. The primary question, however, is an underlying "If what we have to advise is so important, then why do so many organizations ignore what we have to offer?"

Many other professional disciplines are asking the same question and are trying to find answers to questions such as "How do we get and keep the attention of management?" and, more importantly, "How do we structure necessary programs so that they remain permanent and effective in an organization?"

Although a great deal of literature exists, few programs seem to remain in place over time. If the work of numerous researchers, consultants, and other experts fails to have an impact, perhaps some underlying key principle is being overlooked. Perhaps we must take into account more than simply the procedures and organizational rules if we want out programs and long-range efforts to be successful.

We belive this missing element is in the bedrock of an organization, not just in program effort. It is in the "belief system," a set of mutually agreed upon principles on which to guide or to build.

With the turmoil in our business environment, this need for a belief system goes beyond the professional life. To develop a successful organizational strategy, one must also undestand the inner personal self and have a solid personal foundation that supports a life work or mission. Finally, one must be able to hold this source through personal discipline.

For success in any area, a spectrum of needs must be met that ranges from inner personal beliefs, to personal mission, into the organizational beliefs, vision, and ultimate mission.

The following comments review a number of sources that discuss the interrelationship of personal beliefs, vision, and corporate mission. Second, it outlines a method to review your organizational in its efforts to define its mission with regard to risk or loss control.

Cause for Failure

We have been using safety concepts developed over a half century ago. The methods contain the same routine formats and elements and are "shotgunned" into management by insurance companies, consultants, and other persons intent on doing good. Asking for policy statements, accident investigations, committees, and the like is not wrong, but given the operational pressures, personnel changes are likely. In all probability, this is also a reflection of the marketplace. A swirl of financial changes, company mergers, personnel movement, and genral chaos are the cause of many failures and not a reflection of human neglect or intent.

To make a program work, it must be grounded in the foundation belief system of the organization in which it is to operate. further, it must be accepted in the personal belief system of the people within the organization.

With the ongoing global changes affecting many of us, we must seek point of stability, which acts as a guide while allowing directions to be changed when the environment of the organization changes.

This is an extremely hard process for most people, as society does not for the most part stress or allow time for contemplation of core mission or beliefs. Nor does society directly give the guidelines as to how to even begin the process of such contemplation.

Most of the average citizen's time is spent in some form of operational activity designed to fill time and occupy the mind. Organizational design, belief in technology, and rigid structures of management are a reflection of this lack of contemplation.

If we want a successful program of any type, a sense of "being" must be clearly communicated to all employees. For example, a southwestern airline has been highlighted for cutting through the normal management bureaucracy by having only one rule, which is "There are no rules. …

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