Top 4 Ways to Get Your Employees On Board with Safety Procedures
This is part 3 in our 4 part series on implementing a workplace safety program. Special thanks to Safety Guys Workplace Safety Trainers for their input.
Now that you’ve designed a comprehensive safety plan along with an effective field level risk assessment procedure, how do you get that all important employee buy-in? After all, procedures are only effective if people are following them. But back up a sec. Let’s look at the definition of ‘risk assessment.’
It’s a “systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking.” Could that sound any less exciting? Encouraging employee engagement will be a challenge especially if these are new procedures they have not had to do before. You will need to use some effective tactics in change management because sometimes people are resistant to new procedures, even if the procedures are in their best interest.
After all everyone just wants to get home to their loved ones in one piece at the end of the day, so safety really is everybody’s business. Hey, that should be a workplace slogan!
How to implement new safety practices
1. Keep it positive
The first inclination will be for your staff to roll their eyes. Expect and prepare for that, but don’t put down the process by saying: “Oh, this is just something we have to do to comply with the law.” Take it seriously and make sure they know it’s being done to protect and empower them. Remind them that the right to know is part of a worker’s rights, along with the right to refuse to do unsafe work without the risk of retribution.
2. Staff safety training
This should include face-to-face instruction and written material from accredited organizations in your region, but can also be accomplished by using online tutorials. Look for online tutorials that offer unique links for each individual so you can track who has and who hasn’t taken the training. Participation can also be incentivized if you want to offer a entry into a prize draw for completing an online course.
3. Avoid boring presentations
If there were a risk assessment for ‘death by PowerPoint’ then the warning should go here. Instead of boring your workers with pie charts and graphs, why not engage and entertain them with a story? A more emotive, empathetic approach is better than delivering a monologue. If you make it a two-way conversation, you might be surprised by what you learn. Brenda Van Belle from Ottawa, Canada-based Safety Guys Workplace Safety Training suggests “toolbox talks.” These are simple conversations about precautions and procedures at the beginning and end of every day. And make sure to listen to concerns and follow up so your employees know that you care about their rights and their safety.
4. Balance incentives and consequences
We talked briefly about incentivizing training by offering a chance to win a prize if you complete an online course. Well, while that works in some cases, there should be a balance between using the carrot and the stick when implementing a safety program. For example here’s a one way to use the stick: require employees to fill out a risk assessment every day, and implement random spot checks. There are risks of consequence for those who don’t comply, but without a presence patrolling the facility and enforcing safety rules in the workplace, the program will not be able to eliminate unsafe conditions and behaviors, per its mandate.
As to mandatory risk assessment forms . . . imagine if you rewarded workers for filling out one per shift by entering them in a contest to win a prize? The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes:
“A positive (safety) incentive program encourages or rewards workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, near-misses, or hazards; and/or recognizes, rewards, and thereby encourages worker involvement in the safety and health management system.”
-The US OSHA
A positive (safety) incentive program encourages or rewards workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, near-misses, or hazards; and/or recognizes, rewards, and thereby encourages worker involvement in the safety and health management system.
An effective safety incentive program should have well-defined goals, be easy to understand, promote camaraderie, instill motivation, and provide a reward that inspires compliance. But while a safety incentive program can generate buzz and excitement, OSHA does note some drawbacks.
The lure of a prize or incentive could cause an employee to fail to report an injury. If the incentive is group-based, i.e., a team or shift of employees stand to win or lose together, then peer pressure can play a role in the non-reporting of an injury.
On the whole, companies that have a commitment to having a culture of safety have lower accident and injury rates. That means less absenteeism, turnover, and worker’s compensation expenses. It also leads to increased productivity and healthier employees.
Net-net, investing in safety benefits all parties and helps you manage risk out of your business plan.
This is part 3 in our 4 part series on implementing a workplace safety program: