What is your Company’s Reputation for Safety?

photo_10447_20091204Your reputation can be an important asset to your business. A good reputation helps you attract and retain customers. It makes it easier to recruit new employees and can improve employee motivation.

It encourages suppliers to want to be associated with you.

Your approach to health, safety and the environment can be an important part of that reputation. Some companies have built their success on a reputation for doing the right thing. Others have suffered as customers, local communities, and even their own employees have turned against them.

Many companies’ spokes persons utter the following words when there has been an accident. “Any time there’s an accident, and any time there’s a risk to safety we’re absolutely concerned about it,”

Fair enough!

What does absolutely concerned mean? A NOSA 5 Star rating? , Minimum legal compliance? What? An injury rate that is below industry norm?

Every single year there are numerous accidental deaths and disablement in industries around SA. The Department of Labour has been trying to impact on this, through closures, legislation, education and many other laudable efforts. Unfortunately with little real impact! How come? Well, it is something that excellent salespeople know. If you sell features, people don’t buy. When you sell, benefits, customers buy.

Unfortunately, threats work only up to a point. Unfortunately many companies do not realise that what they are doing to a large proportion of their share price when there is an accident or major incident? In today’s information sharing age, no company can afford anymore to ignore the implications of non-compliance. These days’ employees do not want to work anymore for an employer who maims and kills its employees.

No I can just imagine, some employer sitting somewhere, reading this post, thinking: “This writer does not know what he is talking about. In SA – a developing country, there are more sources of supply than demand for labour.

Sure, but there is one thing the employer has forgotten about. Bad news now can spread worldwide at the push of a button. And, that push has the impact to affect not only employees, but also suppliers and other stakeholders.

In fact in Europe some employers are not prepared to do business anymore with companies that destroy the environment or hurt their employees.

In the end, if you consider going beyond the legislative and punitive judgements, a company will be remembered for their destruction of the environment(Exxon Mobil/BP) destruction of communities (Union Carbide, Bhopal, India) and their actions when faced with employees that have fallen ill (British Cape, Thor Chemicals, etc.).

But, what about the recipients? Oh, don’t worry! They will receive a pay-out, based on current legislation that will try to recompense them for the destruction of their normal life. What most parties, including the Media forget about is that no legislation, cover pain, loss and suffering.

The only newspaper that has really gone all out to cover these issues in my opinion has been the Sunday Independent newspaper. I mean they have even featured it in the Business Section on the front page. “I mean, what is their problem? (A manager speaking)

It raises an interesting debate. Where are SA’s investigative journalists? Uncovering governance debacles, I presume. High profile cases advances careers.

How come SA’s investigative journalists do not “nail management to the wall” when an accident happens? In the USA and in Europe, the media will not allow this type of situation to proliferate. In SA, Page 4 plus is the norm.

What is your Company’s Reputation for safety?

Tip –

Its well worth making customers, employees and the local community aware of your Safety, Health & environmental commitment. For example, you might want to emphasize the steps you’ve taken to reduce accidents and to reduce pollution. Your approach to sustainability is likely to be of interest to stakeholders.

They may be interested in how you minimise and dispose of waste, what you’ve done to make your processes more environmentally friendly and what you have done to comply with relevant legislation.