Promoting a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

September 19th, 2014

About half of your overall workplace safety—including minimal incident and accident reports, minimal workman’s comp claims, and minimal lost workdays—will come from strongly enforced, sensible safety policies. But no matter how wise and sustainable your policies may be, rules and regulations can only take your workplace so far. In order to encourage compliance even when nobody’s looking, you’ll need to cultivate an ingrained respect for safe behavior and healthy habits among your staff. In order to shape your culture and reinforce the message that safety is everyone’s responsibility, keep these tips in mind.

1. Set the right example.

Nothing undermines safety policies quite like managers who ignore or disrespect them. If higher ups in the company think they’re immune from traffic rules on the shop floor, hand washing policies, hair nets, or hard hat requirements, something is wrong. Make sure your managers and supervisors are walking the walk at all times.

2. Change posted warnings periodically.

Don’t change the warnings themselves, but change the font, the posters, the color scheme or the positioning of warnings and advisories that are going ignored. People tend to tune out posted messages after they become part of the daily landscape.

3. Encourage employees to speak up and take control.

If rules are being bypassed, advisories are going unnoticed, or unsafe habits are taking root in the workplace, encourage employees to take personal action. Reward them for speaking up and pushing for change that can keep themselves and others safe.

4. Target the influencers.

As always, when seeking to change or elevate a culture for the better, target those who others tend to follow. Make sure the leaders among your teams are sending the right message and helping to keep the workplace safe. If they aren’t, find out why. Obtain their input before you draft yet another ignored policy or overlook a dangerous situation that needs attention.

5. Discourage heroism.

This is especially important when it comes to colds, flu, and communicable diseases. When employees are sick, send them home. Don’t encourage them to “power through”, don’t reward them for doing so, and don’t let others reward them either. The same applies to risk-taking around heat, water, heights, fast moving heavy equipment, or other unsafe situations where employees may push the limits hoping to be rewarded for their commitment to the company.

For more on how to encourage a positive workplace culture and cultivate respect for safety among your teams, contact the Charlotte staffing and workplace management pros at PSU.

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