5 Keys to Building High Performing Safety Teams

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No matter the size or type of organization, everyone wants high performing teams. High performing teams not only meet productivity and performance goals but go above and beyond to ensure the long-term success of the organization. However, the big question is: how do we build high performing teams? More specifically: how do we build high performing safety teams? It’s no secret safety can be confusing. Everyone seems to have different advice, metrics, and methods, but it doesn’t have to be confusing.

What we’re here to tell you today is that any organization can build high performing safety teams. We’ve asked the experts and found 5 key principles that companies of all sizes rely on when implementing or improving their safety team.


5 Keys to Building High Performing Safety Teams


Build Cross-Functional Teams

While it is easy to regulate safety to a department, the reality is “safety” involves every department. It touches everything from engineering and production to maintenance and human resources. Safety is not just a set of procedures, but the conscious effort of everyone in the organization actively seeking to reduce exposure. As such, our safety teams should involve people from every department. When selecting the safety team, speak with directors from each department and ask them to select a leader from their team – someone who will listen to employees, voice concerns and ultimately, lead safety in their day-to-day work.

Agree on a Set of Metrics

Remember the saying “what gets measured gets done”? This statement applies to every function of the company – especially safety. However, where most safety teams fail is by only measuring lagging indicators. If you’re not familiar with the term “lagging indicator”, here’s a brief description: In any performance measurement, there are leading and lagging Think of leading measurements as predictive, such as the percentage of time you driving above the speed limit. Lagging indicators are then output measurements such as the number of speeding tickets you receive. In the case of a safety team, lagging indicators include number of recordable injuries and number of days away from work. Leading indicators would include the number of near misses reported or percentage of participation in quarterly feedback surveys.

Whatever the metrics are, your team should decide on a standard set of metrics that include both leading and lagging indicators.

Create Means for Employee Feedback

While having representatives from each department on the team will help to diversify thoughts and input, don’t underestimate the value in asking employees directly for their feedback. We routinely help our clients implement employee perception surveys to anonymously collect input from all employees – from senior leadership to hourly workers. Each time, these surveys reveal information about the safety culture we otherwise would not have access to. They help us determine what’s working well, where we need improvement and any direct ideas to increase safety performance. Your organization may select a similar or different means of collecting information, but the important thing is to create a means to regularly ask employees for their thoughts – preferably anonymously.

Focus on Developing the People, Not Just the Metrics

As we talked about earlier, it is important to differentiate between leading and lagging indicators. In our view, the most important leading indicator is the investment senior leaders are wiling to make in their employees. We can create world-class safety procedures and measure everything, but if we do not show people we care about their well-being, how can we expect them actively eliminate exposures and help those around them? Caring about employees goes beyond paying for training and increasing compensation – while those elements are certainly helpful. Caring about employees means taking time to know them, understand their needs and finding ways to meet those needs. We work with organizations every day across North America and the greatest transformation happens when employees know they are valued in their workplace. Like we said earlier, measure what matters, and people certainly matter.

Continually Improve

No safety team has ever “arrived” at their final destination of success. To reduce exposure in our workplace, we must continually adapt and improve to a changing environment. Machinery breaks down, new people enter, and organizational goals change. We must always be looking to learn through the changes and improve to meet the needs of our organization.


Keeping these five keys in mind will help you to create a safety team that exceed expectations and improves over time. If you have questions regarding safety teams or any other safety-related topic, please do not hesitate to reach out here.