Why Standards are Important

DF SafetyHSE Compliance, Management and Leadership, Small Business Safety Solutions, Workplace Safety

Employee Handbook

Good morning everyone! Alyssa here. Today I share the importance of a well-developed orientation, training, and competency program by relating it to my own personal life.  

Ten years ago, I worked in the oil and gas industry as an entry-level employee freshly out of high school. I didn’t know anything about health and safety within an organization. I knew it was important, but I didn’t have an understanding of why it was important. Today I look at occupational health and safety very differently than I did then.  

I received an online orientation and was given about a week of training which was positive, but delivered no verification of understanding or competency. I was encouraged to fill out a near-miss card daily with no understanding or explanation as to why I was doing it.  

Reporting health and safety matters were communicated frequently by management, but it was not enforced. As a result, the workers who I was surrounded by daily didn’t consider safety important and did not put an effort into safety initiatives. The contradiction between what I was told to do and what was being done by experienced workers was confusing me as someone new to the field. Hence, I chose to follow the example of my coworkers when it came to safe practices and reporting health and safety matters.

Being new, fitting in with my coworkers was very important to me. As a result, I followed the example of my peers and treated health and safety matters as if they were not that big of a deal. I thought sometimes incidents just happen and that’s just the way it is.  

How could this situation have been improved?

  • Firstly, it is critical that leaders in organizations explain not only the way to do things, but also the reasons behind them. Understanding why standards are in place is especially important to new or young workers. 
  • Second, is that safety standards need to be consistently enforced. Systems that are not measured and enforced are not followed. This serves to remind the long term employees within the organization to be aware of complacency and reminds them that they set the tone for new employees to follow. 
  • Third, is worker participation. I believe that if I had been actively involved with the management system and overall program I would have had a lot more confidence to bring up questions and concerns which would have led to a more positive overall experience working within that organization. 

Now that I have the perspective of both leader and worker, I understand that what is clear to management may not be so clear to new and inexperienced workers like myself those many years ago. Common understanding within all levels of an organization creates a positive work culture and overall incident-free workplace!