May 01, 2020

Leading with Safety

by Guest Blogger

“Safety first” is a common refrain in the manufacturing industry, as well as the building and construction space. It’s an important idea—and today, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 crisis and its implications for all parts of our businesses, “safety first” is more critical than ever before.

It’s worth reconsidering: What do we really mean when we say, “safety first?” What does it look like in practice? And how do we ensure that we’re maintaining a culture that prioritizes safety, all while dealing with the economic ramifications of an unprecedented global pandemic?

This blog isn’t about specific precautionary measures you should be taking—OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided guidelines outlining what workplaces should be doing in that regard. Instead, I wanted to share some thoughts around how your organization can center all its actions around employee health and safety.   

Constant communication is key. Communication is an important part of safety under regular circumstances. But dealing with COVID-19 means new and different challenges are cropping up every day. State and local guidance may be changing regularly, and your organization must be on top of every recommendation and how you can remain in compliance and prioritize employee safety.

When in doubt, overcommunicate with your teams about the measures you’re taking and the policies you’re implementing. Speaking from a personal perspective, every single internal meeting at Quanex begins with safety. Whether we’re talking sales, forecasting, customer concerns, product production, supply chain management, or anything else, the meeting begins with how we’re prioritizing employee safety in relation to that subject.

This is just one way to go about it. But no matter how you’re communicating with your teams, make sure everyone is on the same page and knows the plan.

Encourage common sense. We all have a sense of what safe behavior looks like—and what it doesn’t look like. An organizational culture that truly puts safety first empowers its employees to speak up when unsafe behavior is occurring and holds everyone accountable.
Much of the fenestration industry involves people doing physical work, which means new COVID-19 related safety measures have been implemented on our plant floors and jobsites.

These measures aren’t there to prevent an immediate physical safety threat, like a slip or a fall, but they’re just as important and we should be treating them that way. That means every employee should feel like they’re able to stop unsafe behavior if they see it happening. Promote this kind of good common-sense decision making, and it will soon become second nature to everyone.

It starts at the top. Safety is a shared priority, and it should be top of mind for everyone at every level of the organization, especially today. Coming into a physical work environment right now carries an inherent risk that it never before has. Business leaders must take that risk into account by prioritizing the safety of workers and their families by communicating and enforcing those new protocols. Leading with safety, in everything your organization is doing, is more important than ever.

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Posted: May 01, 2020 by Guest Blogger Filed under: plant safety