Safety Leadership Behaviors

Safety is and will always be the industry’s primary focus, and the workers who serve on the front lines of our operations play an essential role in ensuring safe work practices and preventing workplace incidents.  Everyone has a duty to work in a safe manner and must make safety a part of every task.

The commitment to safety and the active engagement of leaders at all levels is critical to the development and continual improvement of the organization’s safety culture.

To support the industry, the OSA has pulled together a series of spotlights on key leadership behaviors that drive safety performance.

Printable Resource

Key Safety Leadership Behaviors

Always Lead with a Message of Safety

  • Your actions set the direction, expectations, and acceptable behaviors of your employees.
  • Achieving operational performance goals matters very little if an employee gets hurt in the process.
  • Always frame communications to your team around safety. E.g. “Provided it can be done safely,…”
  • At the field level, focus on communicating behaviors only and not key performance indicators. 

Ensure Worker Awareness of Potential Hazards and Life Saving Actions

  • Ensure all your employees are aware of the safety hazards that can cause serious injuries or fatalities within their work environment and the actions they can take to minimize their exposure.
  • As leaders, involve your employees in identifying what are the potential hazards in their job task that can kill and evaluating whether the controls are enough to save a life.
  • Post and make visible to all workers the IOGP Life Saving Rules and Process Safety Fundamentals (or your company’s own set of life-saving actions). 
  • During each daily shift or crew change meeting, review at least one Life Saving Rule or Process Safety Fundamental topic with your team and encourage discussion on these potential hazards. 

Encourage and Reward Stop Work Authority

  • All employees have a personal obligation to assure the safety of themselves and those around them. 
  • Emphasize and model to your employees that: 
         They must STOP WORK at the jobsite if they think the working conditions or behaviors are unsafe. 
         They must STOP and ASK QUESTIONS when in doubt about the safety of any operations. 
         As leaders, give feedback to the employees and ensure the raised safety issues are resolved and it is safe to resume the work with risk-based controls in place.
         If they are discouraged from exercising the “stop work authority” or are penalized for doing so, they should report this action to management immediately.
  • Reward and recognize when a worker uses Stop Work Authority behavior.

Promote Open Communication and Sharing of Information

  • Leaders set the tone – encourage open and honest communication and role model it.
  • Building trust is critical for open communications.  As a leader in the field, you must not only listen to worker concerns, but work together to get to a solution
  • It is important to create an open environment in which workers can easily raise concerns, mistakes, and observations without fear of retaliation.
  • Be curious – ask your workers open-ended questions to ensure understanding.
  • Acknowledge a worker’s courage to communicate a difficult message when necessary.
  • If you’ve made this process a safe environment, you are going to hear things that may surprise you.  If you hear something that conflicts with your views, don’t react. Instead, seek to understand. 

Provide Mentoring and Oversight for Short Service Employees (SSE)

  • Ensure that Short Service Employees are identified, appropriately supervised, trained and managed.
  • Consider implementing an SSE mentoring program to provide guidance and development of the SSE by an experienced peer.

Encourage Workers to Always Pause and Prepare Immediately Before Every Job or Task

  • Encourage and emphasize how essential it is for workers to pause and take a few minutes to prepare before starting each task.
  • During this Pause and Prepare time, workers should:
           Review the job plan
           Verify readiness – look and identify potential hazards of the task
           Ask themselves what is different
           Confirm that control measures are in place to minimize hazard risks
           Conduct a final check before starting the task 

Taking these few extra minutes to Pause and Prepare for the job may save a life!