Discipline has long been a hot button topic in safety. On one hand, it is imperative that leaders define rules and procedures to assure the wellbeing of employees, contractors, and customers. And once those rules are established, they must do all they can to support and enforce them. These leaders know that if they are aware of a safety rule violation and choses to ignore it, they put themselves and the company at risk.
On the other hand, rule enforcement can have a negative effect that undermines safety performance, stalls production, and pushes organizational goals beyond reach—especially when discipline is perceived to be arbitrary or unfair.
Not every rule violation is intentional. Employees who are punished for violating a rule they believe they were encouraged to break (because of production demands or the total absence of enforcement, for example) can feel blindsided by discipline and become resentful toward leadership. The issue can get worse when a rule violation results in an incident and the injured individual feels they are being punished for getting hurt.
How can leaders strike a balance that honors the importance of enforcing workplace procedures while also making employees feel comfortable reporting injuries and enabling them to work in compliance?
Here are 4 tips to get started:
Tip 1: Make rules and the consequences for violating them transparent.
Tip 2: Decide on what is crucial and treat those things accordingly.
Tip 3: Do not determine discipline based on the fact someone was injured.
Tip 4: Avoid increasing severity of discipline simply as the result of a reported incident.
Getting discipline right means understanding a few key practices. In our ebook, The Leadership Guide to Enforcing Safety Rules: Keys to Getting Safety Discipline Right, we navigate this delicate topic and provide practical solutions for creating balance in your disciplinary process. We cover:
Download the ebook and learn the secrets to effective safety discipline.