If you are a director, manager, supervisor or anyone else in a position of leadership and responsibility in the workplace, it is important for you to promote a positive culture of health and safety for your employees.
Health and safety is necessary for the workplace, but in some organisations it is seen as annoying, tiresome, a burden and only something that must be followed when someone is watching. This is a dangerous attitude to health and safety and it leads to employees being more likely to cut corners and take risks, which can result in serious accidents and injuries in the workplace. This is often when health and safety is not approached in the right way and there is discontent between the staff and the employer.
In a workplace with a positive health and safety culture, workers are “on-board” with safety procedures and always follow them. Workers are happy to do things correctly and they are rewarded when they do. Expectations are clearly laid out and employees are welcome to share their comments, questions and criticisms. The work is done in the safest way possible in order to avoid accident and injury.
So how can you create a positive culture in your workplace around health and safety? Here are some ideas:
Reward Good Health and Safety Behaviour
Your employees will respond well when you reward them for doing something right, so using positive reinforcement can be very effective. Put together a program that rewards your employees when they follow the correct procedures, such as naming the “Health and Safety Star of the Month” and treating them to a prize.
Also, on an informal level you can simply offer positive feedback whenever you see your employees do something right. Let them know right there and then that you are impressed by their dedication to safety.
Promote Personal Responsibility
One of the risks to health and safety is when individuals in the workplace start to disassociate from their personal responsibility to health and safety. When the prevailing attitude is “that’s someone else’s job”, then important health and safety procedures can be easily overlooked.
It is very important to avoid a culture of blame and instead encourage everyone to ensure their own personal safety and health. Discourage arguments about whose “job” something is and instead encourage everyone to do their part and act proactively so that the entire workplace can be a safer environment.
Keep Discussion Open
If you are the type of manager or supervisor that employees are too intimidated to approach, do you think they will be comfortable addressing potential health and safety risks with you? Your employees are a valuable resource when it comes to spotting potential hazards because they work on the front lines and they usually see risks and maintenance problems before anyone else. Make sure that they feel comfortable approaching you about these things, so that they can be resolved rather than ignored, preventing accidents from occurring.
Never Value Meeting Deadlines Over Safety
In some workplaces, employees feel like they need to cut corners on safety in order to meet tight deadlines and increase production. Sometimes when you make a deadline, your employees will assume that you need the job done no matter what – so it is important to make it clear that safety is always top priority.
Talk to your employees about this and clarify that, while deadlines are important, they should never be valued above safe working practices. If employees are in a situation where they would have to work unsafely to get the job done fast enough, they should be encouraged to let you know this so that the deadline can be extended if needed.
Make Everyone Accountable
Do you ever walk through the workplace without proper personal protective equipment? Do you fail to discipline workers who are not wearing the right protective equipment? These actions can be seen as a lack of accountability by your employees and can be having a negative effect on your health and safety culture. Make sure that everyone is held accountable for their actions and that if a particular safety procedure is required, it is followed by everyone.
Improve Your Communication
It is always better to convey important health and safety information face to face, rather than via emails, memos and bulletin boards. These messages can be missed, so it is only with in-person communication that you can ensure your employees are aware of the new information.
If your goal is to build a culture of health and safety in your workplace, it is important to ensure that you have the right training. Anyone in a position of responsibility, including managers, supervisors and employees, should be aware of the risks that their job contains and should be properly trained.
The CCNSG Leading a Team Safely course is a health and safety qualification that will instil you with these important skills. It is a one day course that is designed for team leaders and supervisors who want to improve their team leading skills within the workplace. It covers a lot of materials and subjects, including interpersonal skills, how to plan work safely, leadership and much more. It will also include strategies for working safely with others, leading a team effectively, tips for successful communication, self-management strategies and awareness of health and safety at work and an understanding of safe solutions to workplace problems.
The course emphasises the fact that team leaders play a very pivotal role in establishing good health and safety procedures and practices.
The training lasts for one day and covers the necessary material in an interesting and interactive way. By completing this training, you will better be able to create a positive health and safety culture in the workplace. This will allow you to avoid accidents, reduce your insurance costs, improve morale and also create a happier and more productive working environment.
Other courses which help contribute to a positive health and safety culture also include the SMSTS, IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety..