Whatever industry you work in, safety has to be an integral part of your workplace culture. At the end of the day, the safety of your people and your customers should be the most important aspect of your business.
But how do you create a culture of safety in the workplace? Here are some key measures you should consider putting in place to make sure your workplace safety culture succeeds.
1. Make sure everyone is committed
Workplace safety has to start with a commitment from the leaders right at the top of your organisation. Your safety culture has to become company policy so everyone accepts that the correct procedures are the only way things should be done. If leaders are seen to be committed and automatically adhere to safe ways of working, nobody else will question these procedures or think it’s acceptable to cut corners.
A successful safety culture can only happen when everyone throughout the organisation has a shared set of values, attitudes and goals. It’s essential that management show their commitment by gaining the required knowledge and training and sticking to the rules. Managers need to lead by example – this is the most effective way to persuade your team that your safety procedures are necessary and not optional.
2. Communicate clearly
Your employees need to know what’s expected of them when it comes to workplace safety. As a leader, it’s up to you to find the best ways of communicating with all workers so they understand.
Teach your workers what they should be looking out for when it comes to safety hazards at work. Make sure they’re all aware of the safety procedures they are expected to follow and the consequences they’ll face if they don’t comply. Also, make your company health and safety policies accessible to all workers, either on paper or via the intranet.
Remember that some employees might have different communication needs. For example, they might have a health condition, or English might not be their first language. It’s important to find ways of communicating your safety policies effectively to everyone in the workplace.
3. Show and tell
It’s essential that you have the skills and knowledge to back up your words with actions. It’s a good idea to give actual safety demonstrations rather than just presentations and theory. Your employees will learn quickly and easily if they see a procedure demonstrated, such as the right way to use a piece of equipment.
Again, it’s about leading by example. Your workers will listen to you and respect your judgment much more if they can see evidence that you’ve learned these practical skills yourself. This way, they’ll be more inclined to stick to the correct safety procedures.
4. Increase participation
Instead of leading from the front all the time, you need to encourage your workers to take part in discussions about workplace safety. Often, they will have the best ideas on how to make a particular task safer or have mitigate a potential risk, at the end of the day they are the experts are doing their job.
It’s a good idea to hold weekly or monthly safety talks, where workers can participate in or even lead the discussion around safety. This is an ideal forum for them to offer their ideas on ways to improve safety in the workplace.
Everyone at every level of your organisation should feel comfortable showing leadership when it comes to safety. If they feel they are being listened to, it shows them that the organisation cares about their health and wellbeing, and that their contributions are valued. As a result, they’re more likely to see that your safety procedures are being put in place with the right intentions.
5. Encourage reporting of safety concerns
This is the most important factor when you’re implementing a workplace safety culture. Every single worker has to understand the importance of reporting any safety incidents or concerns. The entire success of your safety culture depends on them feeling comfortable bringing their concerns to you.
This means your workers need to know that they are expected to report any concerns, no matter how big or small. You need to make it clear that they will be listened to, and they won’t be belittled or accused of making a fuss about nothing.
To encourage this, you should put a system in place where employees who report safety concerns are rewarded for doing so. This ensures that all workers will look out for each other’s safety as well as their own, which is the foundation of a successful safety culture.