Let's be honest, a safety program only works if everyone is on the same page. If there is a discord between the policies and procedures management puts in place, and the policies and procedures workers actually need (or think should be in place), you are probably going to end up dealing with some incidents.
This often takes the the shape of indifference or blatant disregard for the rules, even though workers feel they are being careful in their own way. However, it is possible to bridge that gap, and imperative that you do.
How do I get workers to care about safety?
Ok, we are going to try not to sound like a broken record because we've done a few posts touching on this already. However, in order to keep workers safe, it's imperative that they actively engage with your safety culture.
- Create a safety culture, not a program. Safety shouldn't be a binder on a shelf. It should be the cornerstone of your operation. A safety culture is embeded into the core of your organization at every level. How do you know when you have established a culture instead of a program? Well, at this point, you shouldn't need to preach health and safety to your workers. It just becomes the norm.
- Implement an incentive program. An incentive program (we have a detailed post on these here) is a great way to support your safety culture. The reason for this is pretty simple. If a worker has never been affected by workplace injuries or illnesses, they may understand the point of a safety program, but not feel like it is relevant to them. Incentive programs can do a couple of things for your workers.
- They improve motivation to follow proper policies and procedures
- They improve employee engagement with the health and safety program
- They give workers a sense of ownership and responsibility towards workplace health and safety
- Include safety as a core value. We have already explored this topic in depth, but we are happy to recap our findings, because it is important. Your core values should represent what is most important to your organization. They are the underlying principles that should be reflected in every aspect of your business and work force. This not only allows it to become easily ingrained in your culture, but it also becomes a metric Adding safety to the list demonstrates excatly how much value you put on it as a company.
How do I get management to care about safety?
We've said it time and time again, safety needs to come from the top. If your management team doesn't care about safety, good luck getting your workers on board. Management involvement is critical to your safety culture. Wondering where to start?
- Ensure management is connecting with workers regularly in THEIR environment. Management doesn't just need to be accessible to your workers; they need to visible in your WORKERS' environement. Have members of your management spend some time on the front lines on a regular basis. By just walking around and having genuine conversations with workers, management will be able to create a personal connection and gain some honest perspective on workplace successes, failures and concerns from the people who are affected the most.
- Look beyond the checklist. Mangers need to go above and beyond the rules and regulations in order to be successful at leading a health and safety culture. While checklists can help ensure everything gets done or addressed, they can also lead to complacency, and complacent managers lead to complacent workers. Give managers
- Lead by example. Mentoring can make a big difference in how your company runs (we have a post on that too!). While mentoring often happens organically between workers or supervisors on the worksite, making health and safety a part of your company mentoring philosophy can go a very long way. Not only does this cement health and safety as part of your workplace culture, mentoring:
- Builds relationships between managers and worker
- Creates trust between management and workers
- Gives managers a sense of responsibility for the safety of workers
Making it work
Creating a safety culture that everyone in the organization feels invested in is critical to the overall health and safety of your team. It may not happen overnight, after all, it takes time to change behaviours. But when you do finally get everyone on the same page, safety will become second nature to your organization, and you'll be able to rest easy knowing that everyone is doing their part to look out for everyione else.