The SPirit of Safety


The SPirit of Safety

 “Safety? I don’t have time to think about Safety!” You may not have heard someone actually say these words, but it is likely you’ve seen someone exhibit this attitude. No one ever says “I don’t have time to provide good customer service.” Quality customer service is something that is expected in our industry–and the same should be said for safety, with proper training and regular coaching. At SP+, everyone plays an active role in safety and everyone has a voice. In 2015, we created the SPirit of Safety communications campaign with the ultimate goal of reducing accidents. The campaign utilized a variety of new tools and resources to reach the different employee groups throughout the organization.

Improving safety performance and accident prevention is a challenge that is made much easier when employees have the necessary mindset. The SPirit of Safety aims beyond just knowing and following safety procedures by engaging all team members to buy into the idea of maintaining a safer work environment and feeling empowered to take action. As a result, behaviors improve. 
The SPirit of Safety program is designed to make safety and accident prevention an integral part of the everyday work environment. We want all team members to collectively look out for their colleagues, customers, as well as for themselves. We’ve crafted new material and delivery mechanisms, while investing significant resources to help make this possible. With a widespread and diverse employee base, we know we need to utilize not only modern technology, but also tried-and-true methods of spreading the safety message.
Both senior and front line management are tasked with embodying the SPirit of Safety. They become the face of the campaign. They are also responsible for ensuring that their team adopts safe practices and keeping employees properly trained by providing leadership to instill a culture of safety. They make sure their frontline teams:
Attend and earnestly participate in all monthly safety meetings – whether formally scheduled meetings or casual shift talks.
Become familiar with monthly safety topics, which are readily accessible through toolkits, newsletters, and a designated safety webpage.
Take an active role in safety in the workplace with proper attire at all times during the shift, wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and reporting all unsafe conditions.
Complete the necessary online and in person safety training.
Additionally, the SPirit of Safety stresses the importance of location management recognizing those employees who show improvement or excellence in the area of safety. We have several incentive programs to promote this new process, including mechanisms for locations to share with the entire organization all of the great things their teams are doing to bolster a SPirit of Safety. Locations send safety-related best practices, stories and examples of employees taking ownership of safety issues and even team photos, which are then shared with others. Some regions even crown a manager with the most improved safety performance as the Safety King or Queen for that month.
The SPirit of Safety takes on a new safety-related theme each month, such as Gate Arm Safety, Driving in the Rain or Elevator Entrapment. Locations receive new written material related to that theme and guidance on how to incorporate that theme into their day-to-day operations. We provide scripts to guide managers through their monthly safety talks, handouts to reinforce the message outlined in the talks and posters to keep the monthly safety topic fresh in everyone’s mind throughout the month. These guides have been critical to help our front line managers, who are not trained safety professionals, conduct these talks and engage their employees in the safety conversation. Creating new materials each month arms front line managers and employees with valuable and timely information. 
The Safety SPot was recently rolled out. It is a vibrant, user-friendly display to showcase the monthly SP+ safety literature, including the Safety SPotlight Newsletter, Poster, and Safety Topic Handout. It also includes a dry-erase scoreboard for tracking location-specific safety metrics such as: days without an accident; days without an injury; or days without an auto damage claim. Because if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
 In addition to the monthly newsletters, posters and safety talks, we utilize SP+ safety videos starring our President and Chief Executive Officer. The first of these videos rolled out the concepts of the SPirit of Safety. In that video the phrase “Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes” was first used stressing that all SP+ team members are responsible and accountable for safety at their location. Video two attacked the limiting belief that accidents are inevitable and just a part of doing business, while reintroducing the idea of thorough accident investigation. The third video, thus far, dives into discovering the root cause of accidents and implementing effective corrective action.
The SPirit of Safety is gaining traction throughout SP+. We are seeing managers and their teams actively engaged in safety discussions and reaching out for assistance not only from members of the Safety Team but from their peers. Safety is becoming second nature to our front line employees and managers. Safety is no longer viewed as an action that must be checked off the daily “to do” list, it is something that is engrained in their lives. Like high quality customer service, safety is a natural part of who they are.
Nicole Hankins is a Vice President and Regional Manager at SP+ and can be reached at
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Nicole Hankins
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