Safety Goals Should be Challenging, Yet Realistic & Attainable
Goals give us something to strive towards, which is often times motivating, helping us to meet goals and make new ones. Just like people, organizations need goals too, specifically safety goals. These goals need to be challenging for your organization, but they also need to be realistic. Having unrealistic goals will not only prevent you from meeting those goals, but it may also negatively affect some safety efforts that are already in place. Carefully crafting goals for your organization is essential to ongoing safety.
You may be wondering what an unrealistic goal might be. Take this for example: if you currently have 40% of staff receiving worker’s compensation and you want to lower that percentage, an unrealistic goal would be to have 10% of staff receiving worker’s compensation at the end of the year. Decreasing the amount of injured workers in that little of time is not realistic, especially for places like a healthcare setting. Instead, your attainable goal could be to decrease worker’s compensation by 10% this year, bringing your total percentage down to 30% in 12 months. This goal is much more attainable, but probably still somewhat challenging to meet and probably requires changing how staff look at hazards in the workplace.
As I said earlier, unrealistic safety goals can in fact undo some of your safety achievements. If you set an unattainable goal for your organization and motivate everyone to help meet this goal, they may forget about other safety points such as slips, trips and falls, or hazardous material safety. Any new goals you create should not be so big that they distract from other goals you’ve already met or are still striving to attain.
You may be wondering how you can keep goals attainable while also making them challenging. First and foremost, always create goals with others. One person creating goals for an entire organization can have negative implications. During end of year safety team meetings is a great time to get input from many people and departments on what types of goals should be set for the following year, keeping in mind goals that were met the previous year, close to being met, or were not met. By looking back at previous goals, it can give you a sense of the types of goals that are unattainable and perhaps help you make them more suited for your staff and organization.
Finally, making goals attainable relies heavily on how they are written. Specific goals, and goals that include percentages are met more easily and are easier to measure. When writing goals, make them as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “This year we will reduce the amount of slips, trips and falls incidents,” say, “We will reduce the amount of slips, trips and falls incidents by 10% in the next 8 months.” Also include how you will meet your goals, such as, “We will reduce the amount of slips, trips and falls incidents by 10% in the next 8 months by holding monthly training sessions with staff on what to look for and how to report hazards in a timely manner.”
Unrealistic goals will cause you to miss the mark on your overall safety, and likely will cause some bumps along the way that could have negative implications. Remember when writing goals to include others and make your goals challenging, but not so challenging that they become unattainable. Like many things, effective goals are all about balance.