While the race to deliver quickest shows no signs of abating, safety must come first in logistics.
While customers expect ever-decreasing delivery times, placing ever-increasing demands on the supply chain, the focus on fast should never come at the expense of workplace safety. Below are key considerations as you adopt (or enhance) a safety-first approach.
Prioritizing safety should not be a hidden commitment; rather, your employees and customers need to know that safety is an important corporate pursuit, one sought because it is a recognized value rather than a necessary liability. It must be integrated into your corporate culture.
The commitment must be a top-down pursuit, too, so that employees can see and understand the value for their employer. To that end, while the pursuit is initiated at the top, successful implementation occurs when employees are brought into the decision-making process. Establish a safety committee, for instance, that empowers your people while reinforcing critical undertakings.
Evaluate and assess all processes, engaging team members at all levels to solicit feedback. The engagement will provide meaningful reassurance that your intent is genuine while generating substantive insights.
Proper training is essential, ensuring the uniform execution of all procedures. Logistics equipment is complex, and when job tasks are modified, there must be a corporate-wide understanding of these new processes. This is especially true for employees who have long tenures at your company and for whom processes and habits become second nature and therefore difficult to break. Special emphasis on retraining those people might be helpful.
Simplify a feedback process for employees, making it easy for them to ask safety-related questions with clear instructions (and processes) about responding — promptly — to any concerns. It is imperative that all employees be fully invested in safety and processes.
As technology continues to evolve and drive greater workplace efficiencies, it can be tempting to rely on technology-generated processes. However, such an approach is fraught with risk, when human behavior is not easy to categorize. To that end, some companies designate employees to monitor other employees while performing tasks to discover elements that might go overlooked by a computer-generated report. If this works for your organization, make it an ongoing process, not a one-off pursuit, allowing you to continually refine and improve your overall approach.
Underlying all these elements is a mature corporate culture that prioritizes safety, an uncompromising value that supersedes profit, productivity and quality.
Safety first. It’s the right approach.
David Ide is Global Vice President of Risk at BDP International in Philadelphia, Pa.