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Former ASSE Head Calls Safety an Organizational Responsibility

Tue November 28, 2006 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

During the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Nov. 8 technical conference call on achieving safety and health excellence, facilitator and ASSE Professional Member and Past-President Samuel J. Gualardo MA, noted that safety is a basic social, managerial and organizational responsibility and not just a cost of doing business.

During the presentation Gualardo gave five reasons organizations improve their safety cultures: legal issues, financial considerations, corporate recognition, a tragic event and moral and ethical concerns. According to Gualardo, though all reasons are important, a tragic or fatal event in an organization should not be something to wait for before adopting a safety culture, nor should financial considerations be the main concern in providing a safe work environment.

“Safety efforts cannot be easily cost-justified. Organizations that focus on trying to make a business case for safety simply do not get it,” stated Gualardo. “Safety is a basic social, managerial and organizational responsibility owed to workers, their families, customers, stockholders and society. An organization’s safety performance results are directly reflective of its passion for attaining safety performance excellence. Productivity, quality and financial return can never be maximized without achieving safety performance excellence first.”

Gualardo discussed 13 critical elements for achieving safety and health performance excellence within an organization. The 13 elements are: senior management commitment and involvement; communicated safety philosophy; effective safety management structure; line management ownership for safety; supportive safety staff; established high standards of performance; employee motivation; aggressive/achievable goals and objectives; deliberate, ongoing and targeted communication; ample employee training and reinforcement; unconditional and surpassed regulatory compliance; a focused approach; and allocated resources.

Overall, according to Gualardo, management plays an important role in safety. Employees do not come to work with the intention of getting injured or killed; they get hurt because management did not properly influence worker behavior nor provide a safe work environment.

Gualardo is a nationally recognized expert in safety management. He serves on the faculty for Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is involved with Dupont Safety Services, the ASSE and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He has lectured extensively throughout his career both nationally and internationally and has authored many books and articles on safety management.

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