Do you make sure to talk to your employees about health and safety? What is the dialogue usually like? Talking to workers about health and safety is very important for a number of reasons.
Employees are on the front line and they are the most likely people to spot hazards and risks as they develop, as well as being the most likely to be hurt by them. They are usually the best people to help you understand the risks within your workplace and then you can work out how to prevent them. Talking to your employees has a number of benefits, as they can help you to identify joint solutions to problems, reduce accidents and ill health, bring about improvements in efficiency and comply with legal requirements.
Also, by empowering your workforce and getting them involved in health and safety decision making, you will make them feel valued and involved while also greatly improving their morale. It will show them that you care about their safety and well-being. They will feel more comfortable raising their concerns and offering suggestions to improve the workplace. Other benefits of talking to your employees about health and safety include a more positive health and safety climate, greater awareness of risks, better control of those risks and in turn lower accident rates.
When To Talk
When should you talk to your employees about health and safety? What is the best way to approach this topic? Here are some important things to keep in mind for and the important times to bring it up, including:
- When a new employee first starts on the job, so you can understand what they know and so they can learn about your specific workplace procedures.
- When you make a change in the workplace, so that staff can be aware of new potential hazards.
- When you implement a new safety solution, so that employees can learn how to follow it.
- When you buy new equipment, so that workers can be informed on how to use it safely.
- When an accident or a near-miss occurs, so that everyone can be aware of what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.
These are some of the important situations for talking about health and safety, but it is also helpful to have talks on a regular basis as well.
Talk about Safety Before it Becomes a Problem
Don’t be the hindsight workplace that only addresses health and safety after an employee has had an accident. Health and safety is something that should be focused on at all times, so don’t wait for something to go wrong.
Preventative actions are very important and discussions on safety should be part of your regular working routine. If this is the case, you will have a much safer and healthier workplace.
Tips for Talking About Health and Safety
You might have all the right intentions when talking to your employees about health and safety, but perhaps they get bored and tune out, they don’t understand or they take things personally? It is important to talk to your employees in the right way about this topic, so that the results of the talk will be positive and effective. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind:
- Keep talks short and concise. Talking for an hour or more about any topic can be boring and will cause people to lose their concentration on what you are saying. It is better to have several short meetings than one long one.
- Provide printed materials, such as bullet point lists, infographics and fact sheets with your talks. They help people remember material and understand it better.
- Never place blame when talking about health and safety. If there is an issue or an area for improvement, be careful not to make the focus on finding fault or chastising as this makes employees defensive. Ensure discipline is fair, but then move onto how the problem can be solved.
- Use real life examples – your employees will understand the consequences of not following health and safety procedures in a much more profound way if they are exposed to a story of someone who has been seriously injured or killed by unsafe working practices.
- Provide positive reinforcement for good health and safety procedures. Reward the employees who do things right.
- Encourage your employees to ask questions and make suggestions. Be open-minded to what they say and show them that you are listening and you care.
- You can make learning about health and safety fun by incorporating quiz questions, games and competitions into your weekly safety meetings.
- Use all different types of media to talk about health and safety, including video, photos, written documents and much more. People remember things in different ways, so this will help you to cover all the bases.
Training Can Help
There are a number of health and safety training programs that focus on the role of the director, manager or supervisor and teach you the leadership skills you need to create a positive, healthy and safe working culture. For example, the CITB Directors Role for Health and Safety is designed for those who work at a senior management level in the construction industry.
The course covers a number of topics, including the moral and human costs of decisions made at boardroom level, the impact of unsafe working environment on businesses, legal responsibilities of health and safety and how to create a strong and responsible health and safety culture.
This training course can be completed in one day, which is ideal for those who have little time and want to improve their knowledge of health and safety, as well as gain skills to promote it within their organisation.
These are just a few of the things that you should keep in mind when it comes to talking to your workers about health and safety. Make sure that this very important topic is addressed and that everyone is on the same page, so that your workplace will be as safe as possible.