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1% of daily OHS leadership actions make all the difference

Updated: Apr 8

Inspired by the insightful book "One Percent Safer," I pondered how organizations can effectively achieve incremental improvements in their Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) strategies and actions.

While initially believing that establishing a robust prevention program or OHS system was the cornerstone for success in this endeavor, my experience as a consultant has led me to a different conclusion. I am now convinced that the key to achieving a 1% improvement in OHS results lies in the leadership exhibited by OHS professionals, particularly field or floor managers, rather than solely relying on OHS specialists.

When discussing leadership, we often focus on the individual characteristics and leader skills. However, it is equally important to consider the actions that leaders must take to demonstrate effective leadership.

To delve deeper into the concept of 1% improvement, I recommend watching Simon Sinek's enlightening video "Leadership Explained in 5 Minutes." In this video, Sinek emphasizes that it is the cumulative effect of small, everyday leadership actions that distinguishes true leaders from mere managers. Additionally, I encourage you to consult the graph from Tommy Baker's book "1% Rule" which vividly illustrates how small gestures can lead to significant improvements over time. Specifically, a 1% improvement daily can result in a 37-fold enhancement by the end of the year.

Applying the concept of 1% improvement to OHS, one may wonder what these small gestures could be that make a substantial difference in results.

While the list is not exhaustive, our experience as OHS consultants has shown that fostering positive communication with employees is paramount. Leading by example, conducting effective start-of-shift meetings that encourage dialogue, and engaging employees in discussions about risk management and control measures can significantly amplify your impact as an OHS leader.

In essence, exemplary managers and supervisors recognize that when employees raise safety concerns, it presents a new opportunity for improvement. Adopting this mindset enables them to respond constructively to such issues and foster a culture of continuous improvement within the organization.


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