A strong safety culture starts with good leadership and all levels of management to be bought into creating and sustaining a positive safety culture. The more workers that are involved in the company’s safety culture, the more effective all safety initiatives will be. Strong safety cultures tend to see low injury rates, less workers’ compensation claims, and less time spent away from work due to injury severity.
5 Easy Ways to Improve Safety in the Workplace
1. Safety Training
Training workers about safe practices and how to complete their work tasks safely is a key component of a strong safety culture. Training should be made in a manner that is beneficial to the workers so they can retain the necessary information they need to remain safe at work. Training can come in many different forms such as in-person training, virtual training or hybrid training. The right training delivery should be selected based on what the learning topic is. Teaching workers about the hazards of forklifts can most effectively be done in person where the workers can visually see the forklift and identify the hazards for themselves as they learn about them. Testing the knowledge of the learners after the class or even during the learning concepts is always a good idea to ensure that the class members are retaining the delivered information.
2. Management Commitment
Management commitment goes beyond just having a company policy or document that upper management signs. Company leadership and management need to reinforce the company’s stance on safety. One method for leaders to be committed to creating a strong safety culture is by leading by example through all of the work that they do. This means if managers of a company expect all workers to wear their personal protective equipment, supervisors and managers should also be wearing all of their own personal protective equipment in order to lead by example. Management must not retaliate against its workers when safety concerns are brought to their attention, and management should take action on raised safety concerns, rather than ignoring them. Doing these things increases the desire for workers to actively participate in their company’s safety culture and initiatives.
3. Worker Involvement
All workers need to be actively involved and allowed to have a voice in safety in order for a strong safety culture to thrive at an organization. Workplaces should have health and safety committees where members of the workforce are joined with members of management to meet regularly to discuss safety concerns, initiatives or general activities that support the workplace and help keep the workers safe in their jobs. Safety committees allow workers to participate and have their voice be heard as long as members of management take action when reasonable ideas or concerns are expressed about the safety of the workers or job site. Creating a means for the workers to have their voices heard increases the feedback that you will receive from them. Safety committees are a good start, but creating an every day method for all workers to participate such as reporting near misses or good catches increases worker involvement even further.
4. Safety Knowledge
Training helps workers learn about hazards and how to safely perform job tasks, but safety knowledge goes beyond that. Workers should be taught where and how to evacuate facilities safely, and who to contact in case of an emergency. Training typically meets the minimum required compliance, but knowledge of safety needs to be reinforced constantly. Management should create an open environment where workers feel comfortable asking safety questions and management should be confident in answering questions and addressing safety issues in a timely manner. Toolbox talks offer a proactive method of discussing safety with workers where they can learn about best practices and how to remain safe on the job site. Toolbox talks create a way that workers can learn about safety topics that they may not have known about or may not have encountered in their safety training.
5. Safety Audits
Auditing and inspecting the workplace routinely for hazards and risks is a critical part of maintaining a strong safety culture . Performing audits on the workplace creates the opportunity to identify hazards proactively before an injury or accident occurs. After identifying hazards, management can assist by addressing the discovered hazards to create a safe work environment for workers. Rotating the auditors and assessing different areas of the workplace allow for different eyes to assess the hazards and create action plans based on the findings. Tracking safety audits over time can determine if the safety culture is improving or declining based on the findings. Audit findings should ideally become minimal over time and most hazards should be corrected as soon as they are observed or shortly thereafter to avoid the possibility of an injury or accident occurring. Audits should be unbiased and should only be performed with the intention of identifying hazards in the workplace that could harm an individual and then creating an action plan of how to correct the identified hazards to minimize the risk of injury or accident.
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