Productivity is imperative to balancing profit and losses. The cost of equipment, materials, and most importantly, the cost of someone getting injured or killed can deteriorate the budget of any corporation. Safety is an element that is constantly evolving and improving, which brings new challenges to contractors for compliance with the safety standards and to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all their employees.
“Safety is our number one priority!” How many times does your company say this or statements similar to this? Without an effective safety culture, this phrase is merely a statement. What steps does your company take to show employees that safety is truly the number one priority? Often, safety is the first to be cut in budget planning, which can be detrimental to safety culture. Your company may provide outstanding training, fully OSHA compliant, and your workplace is free of safety hazards. However, these are only the basics to an effective safety culture. For any company to stay successful, they have to be willing to stay up to date on regulations and consistently find innovative methods to educate their employees.
The goal should always be to move "the safety needle" in a positive direction to protect workers within your company. It is always encouraging for contractors to continually seek to take safety programs beyond compliance and instill a company-wide culture of safety. To accomplish this, it needs to start with upper management getting involved. If you want to show employees that safety matters, then participate in safety meetings, safety audits, or trainings held throughout the year.
When it comes to the safety culture of a company, and finding ways to improve, there are a few key components to emphasize. A few of those components are:
1. Setting Goals:
Setting short term and long term goals are imperative. When setting goals, it is important to set SMART goals.
S - Specific:
What do you want to accomplish and set deadlines
M - Measurable:
Provide a way to evaluate and track the goal
A - Attainable:
Work towards a goal that is challenging but possible to accomplish
R - Realistic:
Make sense within your job function. Can you realistically achieve it?
T - Time-bounded
: State when you'll get it done and be specific on the date or timeframe
2. Recognition and Celebrate Safety Achievements:
When goals are met or when employees are found for extraordinary efforts towards safety. Achieving goals puts employees in a position of feeling a sense of accomplishment. The achievement of goals is worth recognizing, and it serves to drive the same results in the future. Try taking workers out to lunch after meeting a goal. Handing out gift cards or swag shows instant gratification. By making awards/rewards available, the company is letting workers know that their accomplishments are appreciated and that they employee is valued.
3. Holding Accountability:
Create a process that holds everyone accountable for being visibly involved, especially superintendents and other supervisors. They are the leaders for a positive change. Upper management must hold these individuals accountable.
4. Engaging All Employees: Play a part in Safety and instilling safety as a core company value:
Companies are taking actions that encourage their workers to be more engaged in safety, by holding accountability for the actions of their employees. Often, these companies know how vital safety is and view it as a core value of the organization. This will only happen when the workforce is engaged and believes that safety is everyone's responsibility. Some ways to get employees engaged is by having site-specific safety committees and getting employees involved by having monthly safety meetings. In addition, conducting Tool Box Safety Talks (TBST) or safety huddles prove to be beneficial. Allow time for workers to speak out and be a part of the company's safety culture and involve them in policy development by providing ongoing support, reinforcement, and reassessment.
5. Improving Your Safety Training to Ensure it is Dynamic, Motivating, and Effective:
Safety training should occur proactively, not reactively following an incident. Safety training is not a "one size fits all' category. Employees, and management alike, should be continually learning and growing on the job, both to improve themselves and to advance the workplace with the most effective safety procedures.
6. Measuring Safety Performance and Culture with Leading Indicators and Key Metrics (safety audits, incident reports, EMR):
An honest assessment of where your current program stands must be implemented prior to making changes to safety programs and procedures. Perception surveys, as well as quantitative measurements such as incident rates, severity rates, OSHA recordable, and employee safety training hours, are an excellent place to start. Share the findings on safety audits with employees.
Having a more influential safety culture will increase morale, and typically have fewer incidents. Having fewer incidents comes with significant savings that can be generated from having a sustainable safety culture that boasts a low X mod. Ask yourself what excellence looks like to you when it comes to having an effective safety culture.
"If we get safety right, we will get everything right."