Do you want your organization to experience lower absenteeism, a happier workforce, and lower staff turnover? The first step to reaching these goals is to develop a thriving safety culture in your company that makes your employees feel safe and valued.
But what if you already have a safety plan? Here’s how to reinforce your plan to build a strong safety culture that will benefit your organization for years to come.
1. Define expectations clearly
Having a great safety slogan does nothing if it’s not backed up by actions. For each level of your organization, you need to have clear and concise policies, plans, and metrics. You should have these in writing so there is no ambiguity about it. When everyone is on the same page, it makes it much easier to act upon, which makes it much easier to reach goals. When everyone knows the exact details of your safety plan, your employees can help to make your safety goals a reality.
2. Build from the top down
Safety culture should start at the top. It is up to the senior management to encourage safety programs and also “walk the walk” when it comes to enforcing the policies. Employees will notice if management gives safety lectures but don’t follow the safety advice themselves. Top positions of your company need to be 100% onboard with promoting safety in your organization.
3. Hold people accountable
There should be a process in place that holds people accountable for safety violations, but also reward them for being involved in promoting the safety culture, especially supervisors, team leaders, and managers. There should also be reprimand if someone is caught violating safety procedures. Unfortunately, if employees see one person getting away with bending the rules, it becomes a habit within an organization. You should take care of this early on by formally holding people accountable for safety violations.
4. Give employees the authority to stop work
Empowering workers to halt a dangerous situation can help prevent injuries. Not only that, but workers can refuse to work in dangerous situations and report your company to OSHA. Before this happens, be proactive and encourage all of your employees to be empowered to stop work. By supporting your employee’s abilities to stop work in hazardous situations, you enforce your safety culture, keep employees vigilant to correct any hazards before they are exposed, and show your employees that you care about their well-being, leading to increased morale and productivity. Teach your employees that they have a right to stop work in dangerous situations, and teach them how to spot hazards. This will increase accountability among your employees.
5. Provide a communication channel for your employees
There should be a formal process or chain-of-command for employees to voice their concerns about safety issues. Not only will you receive important feedback about what is working and what isn’t, you empower your employees to take responsibility into their own hands as well.
6. Report all accidents, incidents, and near-misses
Accurate reporting is crucial to accurately judge the success of your safety program. Unfortunately, many companies tend to under-report injuries or incidents to pad their numbers. This actually increases danger to your company, because unreported safety hazards may not get corrected, leading to future incidents. When a near-miss happens, you should fix the hazard immediately. This will mitigate future hazards and keep your employees safe. Accurate numbers also help you track the effectiveness of your safety program, which will lead to future improvements.
7. Have a strong investigation system
Your company should have a detailed investigation system. Evaluating this system is critical to ensure that all investigations are properly handled. This helps to uncover the root causes of accidents and incidents, which will improve your safety plan and mitigate future hazards.
8. Build trust with your team
In a company, every employee should be a team player. This starts with trust. Many people have a misconception that enforcing safety means spying on your colleagues and co-workers. Your employees should know that reporting safety incidents will not lead to repercussions. Trust is essential in building a well-performing safety program.
9. Reward employees for safety recognition
If you have employees that go out of their way to enforce safety culture, they should be recognized. By reinforcing positive behavior, it will lead to more employees voluntarily contributing to your safety plan.
10. Celebrate Success
Hold quarterly events that promote safety in your workplace, but don’t forget to make them fun and interesting. Events like Safety Stand Down Week (May) and Safe+Sound Week (August) are yearly events put on by OSHA with resources available to organizations. These are a good time to talk about safety with your company, but make sure you follow up during the rest of the year as well.