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Set objectives
  • Objectives should be understood by all those directly involved and be achievable with available resources.
  • Objectives should be realistic and attainable but should still present a significant challenge.

Objectives should be based on performance measures, that is, indicators that tell the company whether they did or did not perform as expected. When setting objectives, keep the following points in mind:

  • Objectives should relate to some part of the overall goal.
    • Example: “Develop and carry out a program to train and license forklift truck drivers.” This objective relates to the part of the goal to ensure that all employees understand the hazards and potential hazards of their work and how to protect themselves and others.
  • Objectives should aim at specific areas of performance that can be measured or verified.
    • Example: “Improve safety and health performance next month” is too general an objective to be useful. Better to say, “Make weekly inspections and make certain all hazards found are corrected within 24 hours.”
  • Objectives should be realistic and attainable but should still present a significant challenge.
    • Example: “Reduce recordable injuries in the upcoming year by 100 percent.” This objective may be unattainable because of the extent and complexity of the measures needed to prevent all injuries. An objective well beyond reach can soon create a defeatist attitude among all those working toward its achievement. On the other hand, “Reduce recordable injuries by five percent in the next year” can destroy employee interest by presenting too small a challenge. To set a realistic injury reduction goal, examine the pattern of injury rates for the last three years, and set a goal related to improving the best point in that pattern. For example, if there were injury rates of 5.8, 5.6, and 5.7 for the past three years, the goal for the next year could be, “Reduce recordable injury rate to 5.0.” But always remember that the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed to prevent the first accident and strive to eliminate all injuries and illnesses from the workplace.
  • When setting objectives, solicit input from as wide a range of employees as practical. The ideas already may strongly influence supervisors. Nonetheless, safety and health objectives are most effective when discussed beforehand with supervisors or employees. At the least, secure their agreement or cooperation. People who feel they have helped set an objective will be most motivated to achieve that objective.
  • Objectives should be understood by all those directly involved. Use terms that have a clear meaning to all concerned supervisors and employees. Leave no doubt about what is to be accomplished.
    • Example: “Determine the cause(s) of all accidents and incidents” may be too abstract to be understood (and therefore accomplished) by those with responsibility. Be clear and specific: “Investigate all accidents and incidents at once to determine all contributing causes and take corrective action within 24 hours of completing the investigation.”
  • Objectives need to be achievable with available resources. An objective that requires a large outlay of money or an increase in staff during a budget crunch probably won’t be achieved. Setting such an objective is a waste of time and effort. However, do not discard this objective. Postpone it. For the present, create an intermediate objective of working to produce the needed resources. Remember, travel toward the goal one step at a time. The objective achieved this year may enable the company to tackle a larger objective next year.