Although an organization is responsible for the safety of its staff and working environment, it is a two-way street that requires the cooperation of all employees. After being provided with the necessary safety equipment and thorough training, everybody has a responsibility to respect the rules in place and to follow any instruction given, protecting themselves and their colleagues from the risk of injury. By discouraging any unsafe behavior within an organization and promoting a self-sustaining culture of safety, health and safety regulations can be adhered to, and internal procedures improved.
Actively promoting safe behavior in the workplace is a safety management methodology that can transform the dynamic on-site, building and maintaining a positive safety culture that will follow any new additions to the workforce as they follow the example set. A culture that promotes safe behavior requires more than just safety policies that look good on paper, needing reinforcement that can lead to proactive employee involvement and the monitoring of unsafe behavior. Although this will never be achieved overnight, a range of effective procedures can be put into place and, if persistently enforced, can show significant results throughout an organization, creating behavioral changes across all hierarchical levels within the company.
Setting The Basis For Safe Behavior
Before expecting employees to change their ways and improve safety precautions, a solid basis needs to be created from the top of the hierarchy. Managers and supervisors should lead by example by using tried and tested techniques daily and having a thorough understanding of what is required from employees before they enforce changes.
All equipment and machinery within a site should be regularly maintained to ensure it is up to industrial standards, fit for use, and undergo repairs as and when needed. A regular cleaning schedule should be in place also, contracting a third-party cleaning service if cleanliness standards are failing to be met internally. Having a hygienic working environment will ensure everyone can carry out their duties to standard in a clean space, being more encouraged to keep it clean and tidy instead of letting debris or waste accumulate.
For any employee who is expected to use dangerous equipment or work in an environment that poses any potential dangers, suitable safety equipment or clothing must be provided at all times. Having access to the necessary safety gear is not a luxury and therefore a range of sizing options should be available and any damaged equipment should be replaced. The employees using said equipment should also be provided with regular training to inform them about potential hazards they could encounter, why the safety equipment is essential to use, and how to use it correctly.
In larger organizations, it is common to assign a health and safety manager who is responsible for overseeing safe behavior in the workplace. With more in-depth knowledge of the precautions needed to protect workers from injury and illness, they can ensure that no stone is being left unturned and be a port of call in the event of any dangerous situations. They will also be able to enforce compliance with OSHA regulations, stay up to date with any advancements and avoid potential legal penalties.
Improving Safety Culture Among Employees
When it comes to the employees, implementing a comprehensive behavior-based safety program is not enough, so success requires some further process changes that can see everyone work in line with each other.
Provide sufficient training
For both new starters and existing employees, comprehensive training is required to ensure all employees are aware of the risks associated with their role and how to avoid them. Every worker should have the ability to be able to request further training or safety resources if they need a refresher or feel like there is a gap in their safety knowledge. As well as improving personal safety, thorough training will help ensure OSHA regulations are followed at all times.
Maintain cleanliness standards
Every member of staff should be responsible for keeping their workstations clean and putting away any equipment used to its designated location. Although many employees will do this as a standard, not everybody will so extra emphasis needs to be made on the expectations. A workspace filled with clutter can create serious health and safety hazards, with dangers like loose cords, sharp tools, and slippery spillages having the risk of causing serious injury. Carrying out regular inspections can help identify any problems and prompt employees to keep their spaces clean.
Create an open-door policy
Keeping lines of communication open will mean workers are not afraid to ask questions or speak up if they sense a problem. An open dialogue with employees at all levels will ensure staff feel valued and can speak openly about any issues, requesting further help understanding what is expected from them or being able to ask for equipment that can help them carry out their role safely.
Provide an incentive
Many business owners and leaders can quickly forget how much a little appreciation can go a long way, boosting employee morale and encouraging workers to do a great job. Rewarding employees who practice safe behaviors can set a good lead and prompt others to follow in their footsteps, engaging members of staff across all departments to increase their safety measures. A simple thank you, handshake, or acknowledgment of safe behavior is a great incentive and rewards are always bound to go down a treat.
Workers who are struggling to meet tight deadlines, working long hours, or are particularly stressed at work are naturally going to make more mistakes and take fewer safety precautions. This way of working is unsustainable and should not be encouraged, with safety being a number one priority that should not be compromised. Employees should be told to take regular breaks, stepping outside of their working area to take some time away and refresh their bodies.