Putting safety performance in priority means adopting a strict set of regulations. Its first strength is a systematic approach to accident prevention, which helps directly identify their causes and consequences. Second, it is designed by managers, thus minimizing the possibility of being altered by workers. Third, it is streamlined, meaning there is no alternative interpretation of rules. However, there are also downsides with the first being the lack of flexibility, which implies its inability for timely adaptation to changing conditions. Second, planning for every possible situation is ineffective and time-consuming. Third, the guidelines are written by humans who are prone to making mistakes. Altogether, relying on safety procedures can ensure stability in implementing defense management, but it can also negatively impact the output.
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The behavior-based approach emphasizes employees’ mutual observation as the primary accident prevention mechanism. Its first strength is flexibility in workers’ response to emergencies due to the absence of restricting limitations. The second advantage is the quick adaptation based on constant correction of safety rules. The third benefit is efficient production, unhinged by limiting restrictions. The first downside is a higher probability of error, caused by the lack of unified guidelines. The second disadvantage is the deficit of managerial vision, precipitated by excessive employee input. The third drawback is the human fallibility that permeates safety observations. As a consequence, an organization with a behavior-based approach is capable of efficient output at the cost of a higher possibility of malfunctions.
In order to ensure effective safety management, it is necessary to combine both approaches. First, the overall guidelines are essential, but they should allow for quick responses even if it contradicts the safety protocols. Second, safety managers should prohibit actions that would constitute an immediate danger to health but permit non-critical safety deviations. The resulting system is safe and minimally constrains the organizations’ outputs.
Barriers in Implementation of a Safety Management System
The first barrier to employee involvement in administering a safety management system is the lack of worker awareness. Most of them do not see the necessity for implementing a safety system. For example, an employee might not see why new guidelines slow down the work process. Therefore, they will not feel motivated to participate in the enacting of a new system. This can be handled by a public explanation of the role of safety regulations in protecting workers’ health.
The second barrier is the delegation of responsibility for safety failures. Introducing a set of procedures implies the necessity of overseeing their proper implementation. Assigning responsibility can be complicated by personnel’s lack of sufficient qualifies to maintain safety, thus, obstructing the choice. In order to prevent the incompetence of employees, management can organize the necessary training for their staff and correct their job descriptions by clarifying penalties for safety violations.
The third challenge in implementing new safety protocols is their possible rigidity. Rapidly advancing technologies can create emergencies that safety managers had not foreseen. For example, an organization intends to digitalize its processes and install new hardware. However, the safety regulations limit the consumption of electricity, thus, creating a temptation for workers to violate them. In order to mitigate similar controversies, guidelines should be written with the unknown variables in mind, allowing non-critical deviations.
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The fourth challenge is the application of a behavior-based safety system. Adopting a policy that relies on its workers to maintain safety and prevent accidents presupposes the risk of human error. For instance, workers could miss the signs of danger due to tiredness and lack of attention and proceed to create an emergency. The preventive measure for employees’ inattentiveness is obligatory peer-checking which would be supervised by a safety manager.
The fifth difficulty would be the lack of workers’ input in the creation of safety measures. As an example, managers might not consider the perspective of employees and their work nuances and order to write the protocols as they see them. Subsequently, workers will be faced with restrictions they are unable to alter. It can be handled by managers organizing a survey of ideas for safety regulations, which would incorporate the employees’ experience.