Organizations with employees who are at high risk of getting injured often have structured and well-designed workplace safety strategies in place. As they are aware of the consequences of neglecting workplace safety, they understand that having a good plan can significantly improve employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing.
1. Identify all the workplace safety hazards
Before you even start building your workplace safety plan, it is crucial to define and understand all the potential sources of hazards in the workplace.
Identifying those safety hazards and issues is the first step in protecting employees in the workplace. Some of the most common hazards often include ergonomics, hazardous chemicals, mechanical problems, noise pollution, restricted visibility, dangers of falling, and weather-related hazards.
2. Define safety policies and remind employees to follow them
After identifying all the possible workplace hazards, the next step is to define safety policies and procedures. Many organizations have safety handbooks that employees can use as a reference every time when in doubt.
However, creating such materials is not enough if your employees don’t consume and follow them. It is the employers’ job to continuously remind employees of the importance of following safety guidelines. Moreover, under OSHA regulations, employees are required to comply with the standards, rules, and regulations put in place by the employer.
3. Keep employees aligned to foster a culture of safety
Suppose you are trying to build an employee-centric workplace, ensure a positive employee experience and foster a safe culture. In that case, all your employees, including leaders and managers, need to be aligned and on the same page. Here, employers often neglect the importance of open and transparent workplace communications.
Besides just having a clear plan and safety training, organizations need to find ways to embed new employee behaviors by delivering inspiring safety stories, communicating new safety programs, and sharing the company’s successes.
4. Build a safety communication plan
Many organizations are now implementing safety communications as a core company value. This focus on a safety-centric workplace improves not only employee morale but also the bottom line.
In order to build a strong culture of safety in the workplace, organizations need to build safety communication plans. In other words, your workplace safety strategy will be as successful as you manage to communicate it properly.
The safety communication plan should consist of a set of materials, important company updates, messages, and other internal campaigns that need to be communicated to the right employees at the right time.
Besides timeliness, creating engaging and relevant content is crucial here. When creating your safety communications plan, always ask yourself these questions:
- What are the main messages we want to communicate?
- What are the important safety updates to be shared with employees?
- How and where important documentation should be stored and shared with employees?
- Which employees should be reached?
- How will we segment internal audiences to make sure that the right employee gets the right message at the right time?
- What type of content should we distribute to ensure high engagement?
- Which communication channels should we use to distribute the messages?
- Can we reach employees on their mobile phones in a matter of seconds?
- How will we recognize those who follow the guidelines in order to ensure better compliance among other employees?
- How will we measure the impact of our communication campaigns?
5. Involve leadership and encourage employees’ share of voice
Creating safe workplace environments starts at the top. Without the leadership’s buy-in, it is impossible to amplify the safety messages and encourage employees to follow them.
Senior leadership must set the communication standard by providing an open and transparent environment. Such environments facilitate and drive discussions that allow employees to offer suggestions, report concerns, and feel empowered to contribute to workplace safety programs.
6. Designate a health and safety representative
As some employees are reluctant to share their safety issues with their direct managers, some organizations appoint designated health and safety representatives.
By doing so, employees can confidently and discreetly discuss their concerns with the representatives who act as a trusted intermediaries between managers and employees.
However, employers are responsible for enabling these representatives to always be connected with employees and making sure that they can reach out to them in a timely manner. Yet, many companies still don’t have access to the right technology that enables them to do so.
7. Build trust and be consistent
Fostering a safety-centric workplace environment begins by building trust in the workplace. Workers must be able to trust that their leaders’ number one priority is keeping their employees safe and that they can report to them if they notice any unsafe activity.
However, this type of employee behavior doesn’t happen over time, and a successful transition to an employee-centric workplace culture takes time to build. Honest, consistent, and transparent workplace communication, as well as constant check-ins with employees, are the key.
8. Encourage engagement and participation from employees
The Safety Culture Survey administered to hundreds of organizations by Safety Performance Solutions Inc. (SPS) indicated that 90% of respondents believe employees should caution others when they’re operating at risk. However, only 60% say they actually do provide this critical feedback.
In fact, 74% of respondents (from the SPS Safety Culture Survey) confirm they welcome peer observations for the purpose of receiving safety-related feedback. Yet, only 28% believe other employees feel the same way.
Encouraging employees’ engagement, upward feedback, compliance, and participation are key prerequisites in promoting and growing a positive safety culture in your workplace. Instead of leaving your employees out and just delivering safety guidelines one-way, consider involving your employees to directly participate in shaping a safer, risk-free working environment.
Here are a few tips for driving your employee engagement:
- Encourage your employees to suggest practical solutions and address their concerns in order to maximize safety.
- Enable and empower your employees to get involved in defining workplace policies and speak up about workplace safety issues.
- Ask them for feedback and urge them to report hazards continuously.
- Continuously emphasize the importance of keeping themselves and their colleagues safe.
9. Enable easy access to important documents and information
Blue-collar workers are often the ones with the highest risk of getting injured at work. These employees spend most of their time outside of the company’s offices, and they often don’t have designated working spaces.
These hard-to-reach employees, need to have instant access to all important safety materials and documentation available on their mobile phones. On the other hand, employers need to eliminate information overload.
Moreover, these employees should have access to personalized employee news feeds where they can consume content relevant to their job roles and potential hazards specific to their functions.
On the other hand, managers and safety representatives need to have a way to send instant updates, safety push notifications, and the ability to automatically share content from credible safety sources such as OSHA.
10. Help managers and employees always stay connected
It is important that you enable supervisors to keep employees informed about potential hazards or risks in the workplace. Managers should have the ability to create designated safety communication channels where they can share important information and communicate with their teams.
Similarly, when employees notice a potential hazard in the workplace, they should be able to instantly reach their fellow co-workers to inform and alarm them about the hazard.
11. Recognize those who follow the rules and regulations
In addition to keeping employees informed, it is important to praise and recognize those who regularly do their jobs safely. This builds a more open, positive safety culture and increases the likelihood that others will embed the same behaviors.
This culture of appreciation goes a long way when you want others to understand and support your plan. Share your employees’ successes and amplify positive examples, give public recognition, and enable others in your organization to join the conversations.
12. Measure the impact of your safety communication campaigns
As mentioned earlier, communication in the workplace is the number one prerequisite for building and maintaining workplace safety. However, most organizations still don’t have ways to measure the impact of their safety communication campaigns on employees’ engagement and safety.
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