10 Safety Leadership Principles
1. You must establish a mission that aligns safety and health as a core value – Priorities can change,
however values do not, and aligning safety and health as a core value will ensure safety is not crowded
out and creating unpleasant consequences.
2. You must ensure alignment to the safety mission both in words and actions – As Ralph Waldo
Emerson stated, “Who you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.”
3. Safety must be a performance measurement for all employees – The success of a company is directly
tied to its ability to align and energize the organization to a set of common objectives that are clear
and directly tied to what individuals can control.
4. The absence of injuries does not guarantee the presence of safety – Too many leaders measure the
success of their operations by lagging indicators of recordable injuries, zero lost time injuries or zero
near misses. Each of these can provide a leader with a false sense of security. There needs to be a
greater emphasis on specific and measurable safety objectives from which the leader is measured.
5. Activity does not necessarily equal results – We often feel compelled to do something after an
accident. Be sure to ask the more critical questions around prioritization, corrective and preventative
actions, in order to minimize risk and avoid reoccurrence.
6. Managing the base of the safety pyramid is key – We must get away from just focusing on the lagging
indicators (luck and compliance) and focus more on behaviors and conditions.
7. Your metrics must align with what is critical – Rules can ultimately become a source of confusion in
safety efforts. Instead, put processes and procedures in place. This effort will begin to ensure more
ownership by those whom the rules are intended to guide.
8. Your objective should be to standardize and leverage existing capabilities – You must be receptive to
new ways of thinking. Embrace learning and global sharing from both inside and outside the
9. Your role is to create leaders by constantly improving the abilities of everyone in the organization –
Align the skills of your employees with your safety goals and objectives. The more safety leaders you
create, the safer you will become.
10. You cannot settle for partial conclusions especially when you become the object under scrutiny – Too
often as managers our first response is to attack the people and not the process. This can become a
negative in building a culture of transparency. Work to understand the “Why” and not the “Who.”