One of the best ways for a facility to reduce the number of accidents and help ensure a safe workplace is to have a qualified safety coach on site. Whether you’re looking to become a safety coach, or you want to hire one, it is important to know what types of things will help ensure that the role will be successful.
There are many training programs and classes available to help people learn about safety, and they can be very valuable. The bottom line, however, is that they are typically not enough. The following five tips can help you to become a better safety coach in your facility no matter how much experience or education you already have.
How to Become a Successful Safety Coach
Tip #1 – Make Supervisors your Safety Assistants
No matter how hard you work, you won’t be able to keep an eye on every employee throughout the facility at all times. In most cases, you won’t even be able to provide every bit of training and safety guidance that you would like. At least, that is, not if you attempt to do it on your own.
This is why it is so important to recruit the first level supervisors or managers within your facility to help you to improve safety. These individuals will have sufficient contact with their employees to help develop the safety culture that you need in order to help everyone remain protected while working in the facility.
One of the most important things you can do is to ‘train the trainers.’ This essentially means that for some safety training, you will directly train these supervisors, who will then be responsible for going back to their teams and sharing what they have learned. When done properly, this is an extremely effective way to help get everyone up to speed quickly and easily.
Tip #2 – Look for Solutions, Not Blame
No matter how good you are as a safety coach, you will never work in a facility where there are no accidents or injuries in the area. When these things happen, you need to make sure you are working with everyone involved to help find solutions to the root cause of the accident.
Many people are tempted to look first to blame someone for the accident, but that should only be a secondary concern, if a concern at all. The focus should always to be to figure out ways to prevent these types of things from occurring again.
For example, if there is an accident in the facility because someone opened a valve that they thought was just water, but it actually ended up being dangerous steam, you don’t necessarily want to punish the individual. Instead, look into placing vinyl labels (similar to this) on the valves to ensure everyone knows that it is steam.
Printing off a high quality label from your industrial label printer will effectively ensure that nobody makes the same mistake again. Once the problem is solved, there is no need to address it any further, assuming that there was no neglect or malice on the part of the person who opened the valve.
Tip #3 – Incorporate Safety into the Culture
One of the best ways to help make long term safety improvements is to make sure that it is a part of the overall culture of the facility. This means that you need to encourage everyone to have safety on their minds when doing any type of activity.
For example, when holding a training class, the trainer should touch on important safety policies as well as just teaching people how to do their job. As a safety coach, you may even come in to teach people about the importance of training in your facility.
“Most managers and supervisors don’t have the latest training and tools for safety performance, rather than policing for safety results. . This lack of training often results in trying to police the workforce rather than coaching, which impacts performance in the absence of the leader.”
Another area where safety can be introduced is with the maintenance group. Since this team spends time throughout the facility, they can be an excellent source of information about what types of safety problems may exist.
You can also teach them to keep an eye on safety signs, labels, floor tape (which you can find here) and other safety items within the facility to make sure they aren’t getting dirty or damaged. When they find a problem with any safety device, they should either be able to fix it right away, or report it to you in order to have it properly fixed.
Just like the front line supervisors mentioned above, the maintenance team can be an excellent resource that can help to improve the overall safety culture within your facility.
Tip #4 – Measure Everything
While many safety improvements can occur with just training or behavior changes, others will require an investment of time and money. To get this approved, you will need to be able to convince upper management of how important it is, and that will typically require hard numbers.
In order to provide these numbers, you must collect data on as many different things as possible. For example, knowing how many injuries occur each year is essential. Looking at the cost in terms of actual dollar amounts as well as work slowdowns and stoppages is also very important.
You should also look into how many ‘near misses’ occur in your facility. These are times when someone was almost injured or an accident almost took place, but for whatever reason it was avoided. These types of near misses can be an indication of a problem that needs to be fixed.
In addition to gathering numbers to bring to the management teams, however, it will also help you to measure your improvements. This can serve as encouragement to others in the facility and allow you to celebrate your successes.
Tip #5 – Getting Everyone on Board
One of the most difficult things that a safety coach has to do is figure out a way to get everyone on board. The management team is typically fairly easy as they can see the obvious benefits of improved safety. In many cases, however, it is the front line employees that don’t want to focus on safety.
This is normally because they see it as an interruption of their normal daily work, and it may even make it more difficult for them to meet set quotas or other requirements. Working directly with these individuals to help show them the importance of workplace safety is extremely important for all safety coaches.
There are a variety of different ways that you can help to get people on board. Sometimes it will help to show employees what can happen when workplace safety is not a priority. Other times you can get good results by offering some sort of incentive for improved safety.
Learning what will work best in your facility, and implementing the program properly will help you to get the support of the employees who need to make the direct improvements. While it may take some time and effort, it will be well worth it in the end.
Long Term Benefits
When it comes to working as a safety coach, or hiring one in for your facility, it is always important to look at the long term benefits. The above mentioned tips will help get your facility on the right path toward safety improvements that can start today and continue to benefit the company for many years into the future.