As Robert Burns once reminded us, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” There’s a lesson to be learned here; no matter how airtight your safety plan seems to be, things can still go wrong. And when they do, it’s usually out of neglect, not malice. Getting your employees on board with workplace safety is the key, and Safety International has some tips drawn from our extensive experience to help you do just that.
Make it Personal
As important as it is to your business, your employees need to know that workplace safety is also about them. It’s human nature to assume that as long as we’ve been trained, once is enough. But forgetfulness, bad habits, and simple neglect can undermine your best efforts. So it’s important to reinforce what’s in it for them and make it personal. Don’t just talk about your ISNETworld certification or OSHA compliance; focus instead on how those things help your staff. Help them prevent equipment misuse and damage, trips and falls, repetitive strain injuries, and any other potential workplace hazards they face on a daily basis.
Safety is too often a top-down affair. That’s necessary sometimes — the buck has to stop somewhere, and that somewhere is probably in your office — but it can also make your workforce feel as though they have less of a stake in their own safety. When you’re drawing up safety training, explicitly solicit employee input, and listen carefully to what your employees have to say. Addressing their concerns alongside your own helps them realize they have a stake in their own safety; as an added bonus, you may identify and solve problems that could otherwise have flown under your radar.
Remind, Then Remind Again
Nearly every workplace has the usual safety signage mandated by local, state, and federal regulations. That’s a good start, but it also becomes background noise at some point. So be creative in reminding your employees about safety. If you’re using ADP or another automated paycheck solution, you probably have the option to add custom messages to pay stubs; use it to reinforce a different safety tip each pay period. You can also include a small note or flyer separately in the envelope.
This requires a two-pronged approach. The first thing you’ll need to do is take an unsparing look at your workplace culture and make sure that you’re not unintentionally keeping your employees from reporting incidents for fear of reprisal. The next thing to do is admittedly contrary to the usual incentive program (which bases incentives on accident-free days, but tends to just lead to underreporting of incidents), but is more effective because of that. Incentivize the identification and correction of workplace hazards. When that happens, everyone wins.
You already know the importance of workplace safety. It protects your business, it’s a shield against liability, injuries, and worse. But if your employees don’t understand that your efforts are as much on their behalf as yours, they may well be sitting through workplace safety training thinking, “This again?” Luckily for all involved, a bit of creativity in your approach will improve engagement and outcomes. If you’re finding workplace safety a major sticking point, reach out to Safety International to see how our safety consulting programs can get you on the right track.