Safety expert Kevin Burns delivered the special keynote presentation at the Risk Summit on Nov. 2 at Maderas Golf Club in Poway, Calif. Burns covered his philosophy on how organizations can build an engaged culture of safety in the workplace.

For safety expert Kevin Burns, workplace safety comes down to three key words: Trust the process.

Burns believes safety will always be an evolving part of an organization’s operational effectiveness. With this in mind, safety and training managers need to instill a process that educates employees on how to be safer in the workplace and create a culture of safety. Burns shared his outlook during a special keynote presentation at the Risk Summit on Nov. 2.

“We don’t want people to have to be exposed to death and destruction before they get safety,” said Burns. “So my philosophy is let’s teach people that safety is a process. Where we are in safety today is very different than 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even back in 1970 when the Occupational Health and Safety Act first came in to existence through Richard Nixon signing it into law. It is a process. It continues to evolve. There will always be new rules, new processes, new procedures, the longer we go. It’s an ever-evolving process.”

During the presentation, Burns laid out 10 safety attitude strategies that organizations need to ensure a safer culture. The eighth rule states “your actions determine your outcome.” This is a key point because it stresses how workplace safety is the result of a series of smart decisions being made that lead to safer outcomes. By making safe actions, they will have safe results, Burns said.

Burns says a great deal of responsibility is on safety managers to not just teach safety, but provide safety leadership. Training is key for everyone in an organization, including safety managers, he said.

“If you want your people to embrace safety and embrace the training, somebody has got to lead,” said Burns. “That’s up to the safety manager to say, ‘no, I’m with you. I’m taking these courses too. I’m learning, I’m getting better in the same way I expect you to do the same thing.’ And it’s a leadership philosophy … Training is the key component. Having the training doesn’t necessarily mean they will make the right decision, but they have the ability to make the right decision.

“The challenge we find for safety managers, they have folks in the field that they know have been trained properly, but can’t be guaranteed they are going to make the right choice, based on the set of circumstances that are unfolding. So the more that we repeat, the more repetitive it becomes, the more we’re exposed considerable amount of training that is going to be involved, and keep our skills fresh, there is a much better likelihood that somebody in field faced with an uncertain situation is going to make the right choice.”

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