In the workplace, management receives reports on a monthly, weekly, or even a daily basis. These generally outline progress in areas like production and efficiency. Unfortunately, one extremely important process that is usually left out of the reporting equation is safety. It’s not surprising, either, because safety is a hard thing to quantify. You probably aren’t aiming to create X units of safety each month. Even if you were able to somehow do that, what would be a reasonable goal?
Measuring Safety And Reporting It
What makes safety difficult to measure is the fact that you don’t have much data on something that doesn’t happen, so right up until there is an actual incident there isn’t a whole lot for you to go on. Just because no accidents have occurred does not mean that unsafe behavior hasn’t been happening. For this reason, many safety programs have incorporated “near misses” into their safety reports; every time behavior or an incident goes on that could have lead to a problem, it is reported in a weekly document to go to management.
This report should also include other safety goals, like what has been happening in an effort to improve safety in the workplace. You should have one person in charge of the report who also evaluates safety throughout the week and who can observe and think about how improvements might be made on a regular basis. Near miss counting makes this sort of approach measurable- if implemented safety improvements are successful, it may be hard to see a change in the number of accidents occurring (because hopefully they are few and far between anyways), but you’ll likely be able to see a change in near misses because these happen more often in most work environments.
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The point of reporting these things regularly is that it puts safety into a format that your management is used to seeing in other contexts. This not only makes the issue easier to understand, but it also makes safety important, or seem more important that it was perceived as before. This is because it’s hard to critically analyze the abstract concept of “we’ll work to be safer!” but when you have real goals, figures, and results, this takes the issue of safety and frames it in a business perspective quite nicely.
So that takes care of management, but how can you make employees feel the importance of safety as well? That’s tough when there’s no life-changing events going on around them related to safety – so some businesses get creative. One idea is to have a standout safety member of your team each week. Not the sort of gold-star-on-the-wall thing that comes about in a first grade classroom, in fact, it doesn’t even have to be publicly recognized. One company I’ve heard about has its senior manager give an employee a call each week and personally thank them for a moment that was observed that week in which they actively took safety into consideration or went above and beyond to ensure the safety of others. Another helpful idea is to implement the usage of safety slogans on facility signage. Visual safety cues help to remind employees about the importance of safety.
The ideas here are endless, but the idea is that you do something to make your employees realize safety is as important as it is.