Designing Safety Program Manufacturing


Long Term Safety

Designing a Long Term Safety Program for Manufacturing

Author : John Stevenson


Part of Performance Solutions by Milliken’s manufacturing safety tips series – click here to learn more

Every manufacturer strives to keep all employees safe. Too often, that responsibility is left to the leadership team, or worse, the safety manager. At Milliken we have learned to build safety ownership into the everyday behaviors, habits, and activities of all employees.


Who Owns Behavioral Safety?

From an organizational view, three distinct groups of people are represented in safety ownership:



Leadership set the vision of the safety process. They establish the mission, values, and guidelines. Leadership provides the aspirational goals of the organization which paints a picture of the end state. They set certain behavioral expectations, either verbally or through agreed written policy, which translates to actions.



Management provide the support through time, funding, and methods to the teams. Managers allocate appropriate time to work on safety projects or participate in team meetings. They set the direction to fulfill the mission and vision of leadership. The Management group become important coaches. They guide and advise teams in concepts such as leadership, feedback, delegation, and recognition.



With that coaching support the Employees take the reins of ownership of the process and hold each other accountable. Employees should also understand the vision of leadership and how management supports them. All three groups work together to achieve a pervasive safety culture. The gaps to that desired culture can only be closed with 100% involvement, everyone from the office to the floor. The involvement is on both an individual level and team level. Participating on risk reduction projects, safety awareness campaigns, and membership in safety teams are just a few ways that all are involved. Only through active involvement will the safety vision be fulfilled.


Questions Every Individual Should Ask About Their Role in Behavioral Safety

Safety ownership at all levels is developed over time through organizational and personal transformation. From an individual perspective, these questions are important for everyone to ask and answer:

  • What is my safety role?
  • What are my personal safety measures?
  • What are the organizational safety measures?
  • What is my safety standard work?
  • What do I own, care for, and improve?
  • What are my safe behaviors?
  • Where do I fit into the overall safety system?

Answering these questions, at a personal level, establishes intrinsic connection to actions on a day-by-day, even minute-by-minute view. It is not enough to attend an occasional meeting. Safety ownership extends from arrival, to the work area, and to leaving. Active evaluation of current safety risk protects not only self, but colleagues also. With everyone taking ownership, a truly safe organization can be realized.