How to Get Workers Engaged in Your Safety Program
Workplace safety is essential. But you can only be confident in the safety of your workplace if everyone is involved with your company's safety program. It can be challenging to increase employee participation in a safety program, but the benefits of involvement are invaluable. Below, we'll review the different strategies you can use to promote safety at work.
Step 1: Ensure Workers Understand the Importance of SafetyThe main reason for noncompliance in any workplace program is that employees don't feel it's important enough or effective enough for them to participate. When it comes to workplace safety programs, employees need to feel like the program is worth their time and effort. The tricky part of explaining the importance of a workplace safety program is that actions often speak louder than words. So while you can share all the statistics available about how workplace safety programs will benefit them, workers will be most likely to participate when they see the program actually making a difference. Whether it's the addition of readily available personal protective gear or adding a monthly training program to everyone's schedules, workers will be encouraged to participate when they see the positive effects a safety program can have on their work environment.
Step 2: Encourage Management to ParticipateWhile the safety program may be mandatory or strongly encouraged for the floor workers, asking management to participate will show all employees how serious you are about workplace safety. Leading by example takes on a whole different meaning when upper-management joins in on training sessions or leads a discussion group on common workplace injuries. If management doesn't participate in the safety program, employees will be questioning the importance of the program. Although it would be nice, it's unrealistic to think that every member of the management team will participate in every safety program initiative. You can suggest a rotating participation schedule with a different manager joining each initiative. Another option is to work directly with a single manager for a liaison type of relationship.
Step 3: Provide Easily Accessible ResourcesIf you notice a lack of participation in your workplace safety program, double-check to see if all employees have access to the materials. This is especially important when a program is new. Employees are not going to spend their time seeking out safety resources, so you need to take the extra step to promote safety at work. Here are a few ideas for providing accessible resources:
- Offer engaging and fun training sessions during regularly scheduled hours, so employees don't have to stay after their shift
- Provide protective gear at convenient stations for employees to take advantage of
- Host monthly "lunch and learns" as a dedicated place for discussing workplace safety issues
Step 4: Involve Workers in Decision MakingEmployees will be more likely to participate in the safety initiatives you're establishing if they have a say in the process. While including perspectives from different departments can be more time consuming than making an executive decision, the extra footwork will help reduce any friction you might receive. While there are plenty of ways you can incorporate employees in the decision-making process, some examples include:
- Monthly safety committees where everyone is invited to share their concerns and questions
- Implement "Toolbox Talks" where employees come up with their own safety issues to discuss and share
- Polls about proposed initiatives where employees can vote if they agree or disagree
- A suggestion box as an easily accessible way for employees to share their ideas
Step 5: Use Positive ReinforcementEveryone wants to be recognized for positive behavior. Employees working toward an injury-free environment are no exception. Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all option for a positive feedback program. You will have to ask the employees what they would like to see and what would encourage them to participate. Your positive reinforcement can be as formal or as informal as you'd like —you just want to make sure to thank employees for their safe habits. Ways you can incorporate a positive reinforcement include:
- Points System: Each positive action has a point value associated with it. Managers and fellow employees can report when they see a positive action. The points can then be redeemed for more substantial rewards.
- Announcements: Employees that implemented safety best practices can be nominated for a feature in the company newsletter or for recognition on a plaque or signed posted on the floor.
- Company-Wide Rewards: Depending on the size of your company, it could be near impossible to recognize safety at an employee level. Instead, you can reward positive behavior on a team or company-wide basis. Pass out small gift cards, provide a catered lunch, or put on a party to show the team how much you appreciate their efforts.