No one wants to imagine going to work in the morning and never coming home again, yet the latest statistics reveal over 5,000 fatal workplace injuries per year. The workplace should be a safe place but that’s not always the case.
How can a company make its workplace safe? By creating a culture of safety.
Read on for 5 fundamental steps for creating a culture of safety in the workplace.
1. Take It From the Top Down
A culture of safety starts at the top. Management must commit to safety and prove that commitment every day. Training from day one must include systems that reinforce safe habits in the workplace.
Engaged leaders build the foundation for a culture of workplace safety.
2. Trust and Relationships
Employees must trust their leaders, and the relationship between management and employees must be good. If managers want proactive employees, they must listen with an open mind.
Too often, employees are seen as whistleblowers for identifying bad situations. When accidents happen, don’t only look for who deserves blame. Listen to employees when they discuss the reality of their every-day work lives.
3. Stopping At-Risk Behavior
Once you’ve built trust, identifying and stopping at-risk behaviors is easier. Empower all employees to encourage and praise safe behavior while identifying at-risk behaviors.
Take a hard look at organizational systems that could encourage at-risk behaviors. For instance, an assembly line that rewards speed that could lead to employees ignoring good safety habits.
These types of situations disincentivize employees to speak up about potential hazards. Getting outside help is sometimes the best way of identifying dangerous situations. Visit drivingoe.com for more information.
4. Beware of Metrics
Many organizations only give lip service to safety during safety meetings or react when there’s been a bad incident. Why? Because too often managers pay attention only to the metrics for which they’re measured.
There are many reasons why incident rates go up or down that don’t rely on instilled safety behaviors. That means even in a workplace culture that doesn’t support safety, there can be long periods of time without incident.
The incident rate is important and needs measuring. Also, come up with ways of measuring safety on a daily basis regardless of whether an incident occurs. Make sure there are consequences for not adhering to the best safety measures.
Beware of blaming individuals for organizational system problems. Changing long-term ways of doing things isn’t easy and it’s sometimes expensive. It’s also important.
If there’s an incident, don’t stop at investigating only those people involved. Look for systems that made the accident likely. Be willing to change those systems.
Creating a Culture of Safety at Work
Creating a culture of safety at work starts at the top and works its way down. From the executive lounge to the front-line employees, everyone must take safety seriously.
Safety takes trust and good relationships between management and employees so employees feel safe discussing organizational problems. Once you’ve built trust, it’s easier identifying and stopping at-risk behaviors.
Reevaluate how your company measures safety and hold the systems, as much as the people, accountable. Show your employees you aren’t afraid to change bad systems.
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