Safety Culture is not built through having a couple of signs in your workplace warning workers about loud noises. It is usually the last thing to think about when it comes to management, but actually the most important and should never be ignored.
It doesn’t matter what kind of a team you have; it is never too late or hard to implement a safety culture in your organization. This goes a long way towards changing the mindset and the actions of both workers and management.
What Does Creating a Safety Culture Mean?
Creating a safety culture in your organization means that all employees are included in the safety and health program. They are given the needed tools to recognize bad safety practices and feel motivated to advocate for their own safety and the safety of others. They should feel empowered to improve safety in all the facilities.
Why Is It Important?
Employees and their representatives know the most about hazards and incidents that could occur during their daily tasks. Therefore, it is very important to include them in the safety program, in order to make it successful. A successful safety culture will help decrease risks and save money and time.
How to Create a Safety Culture?
First, you should keep in mind that improving your safety culture doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires a solid foundation, time, and a commitment to safety.
1- Encourage Participation
Start with properly communicating safety standards. When your employees understand safety standards, they can help with establishing, operating, evaluating, and improving safety and health programs. It can be taken a step forward by showing workers how they can help keep each other safe.
2- Reporting Concerns
Workers should feel comfortable reporting any health or safety concerns. Therefore, you should make sure to keep an open-door policy that welcomes workers to talk to their managers about any issue or make any suggestions. Also, you should encourage communication between co-workers because it can help bring to light risks that workers may not have known about or anticipated.
To do so, you can put a lockbox in each department for safety suggestions and concerns. Make sure to label it properly and communicate it to all employees.
3- Access to Information
Keep in mind that workers can only participate in the program and share the same safety culture, only when they have access to the information they need to engage effectively. They must also have the opportunity to participate in all phases of the program design and implementation.
Communicate with employees about openings in the site’s Safety Committee or tell them about the safety reporting lockbox. So, they remain aware of the opportunities to participate in the program. Post signs on boards, and ads on the Canteen’s TV to increase workers’ knowledge about those opportunities.
You should help workers inspire each other to learn more about safety concerns and the best practices associated with their jobs so they can protect each other from hazards. Also, supervisors should discuss with workers risk assessments on their specific tasks, so workers can know the hazards that they face and how to act upon them to protect themselves and their co-workers.
When workers become aware of the hazards and the controls, they can look out for each other when they see someone performing an unsafe act.
4- Eliminating Retaliation
Raising safety and health issues eliminates retaliation between co-workers. Retaliations could be firing, demoting, denying benefits, or reducing pay hours. Managers should make it clear to all employees that they can report any hazard or incident without fear of repercussions. It is also very important to report any near-miss to prevent any future injury. You can use an anonymous reporting structure to encourage shy employees to communicate hazards.
5- Empower Employees
You should help workers believe that safety is a priority over production no matter the pressure or deadline. Workers should feel empowered to request a suspension or a shutdown of any work activity or operation they believe to be unsafe. Since they know the most about what should be asked, you should allow them to come forward and ask for any investigation they think is necessary even if it will result in lower production for a day.
6- Encourage Employees to Share
Including your team’s input at every step of the safety program is the key to a sustainable program over time. It also improves the visibility of workplace hazards. When an employee reports a hazard, it should be mitigated in a timely manner to prevent future injuries or illnesses. Employees will feel more empowered when their suggestions are taken seriously into consideration.
In conclusion, to improve your company’s safety culture, encourage workers to participate in all steps of your safety program. Make sure they all have access to information such as risk assessments, how to report safety hazards and how previously reported issues have been fixed. Management should always empower employees and encourage them to share new ideas and suggestions and should never retaliate against an employee for raising a safety concern.