A company culture that keeps employees comfortable and protected from potential harm is good for your employees and can also improve your company’s bottom line.
Building a safety-oriented culture is a challenge though, so we turned to our Safety Management team for their input. Here’s what they told us:
A successful safety program requires knowledgeable, reliable leaders. Managers and supervisors in your company will need to have a good understanding of the program and what it entails. They will also need to practice the same (or higher) level of diligence as everyone else involved and be able to properly implement the program. They also need to know who’s responsible for each element of the program so if anything goes wrong, it can be quickly addressed and handled.
Shared responsibility between team members is part of what builds a strong safety culture. Equally as important is having your team on the same page in terms of their ethics. This commonality of purpose will increase the likelihood that they will take an appropriate course of action in an emergency situation, protecting other employees, the business itself and the integrity of the company culture. You may need to get creative in how you get buy-in from your team but find ways to do it. Otherwise, you may suffer from a weak link that puts the entire company at risk.
In addition to responsibility, it should also be clear who is to be held accountable for maintaining and following through with the safety program—and that person needs to be selected prior to implementation. All of the individuals in a leadership position will need to understand their influence on the rest of the team, including the direct and indirect impact their actions will have on others and the business itself.
To establish accountability, upper management should work with everyone to detail their role in the safety program responsibility for holding each other accountable. If everyone understands one another’s duties in a safety program, they can more effectively maintain accountability among the entire team.
Communication is important in every aspect of business, including the establishment of a great safety program. It begins with upper management making their expectations clear to managers and supervisors. In turn, they communicate those same expectations to employees in their departments. You may also want to consider setting up a system that periodically validates everyone understands what is expected of them before, during and after the safety program launch.
There’s a philosophy that if you don’t write something down, it didn’t happen. We’re not sure about that, but we do believe that safety programs should be documented. That means every element is written down, including the steps involved throughout and each team member’s specific roles. Having documentation in place removes errors that come from word-of-mouth or individual interpretation, so make sure every employee has had a chance to review the documents—then verify they’ve reviewed them. Good documentation also puts a halt to disagreements regarding responsibility and accountability.
Eliminate inconsistencies in your safety program that could lead to confusion among your team by making sure there is continuity between documentation, communication and education. Frequent training gives everyone the same information about the processes required to mitigate risks and eliminate hazards and teaches safety specialization to employees requiring it.
Regular Risk Assessments
You can have a great safety program in place, but if any unexpected emergency arises and you aren’t prepared to handle it, your safety program won’t work as well as you might have hoped. You may need to make changes to your safety program depending on the risks present, essentially rendering your current program obsolete.
The best way to keep your safety program updated is to conduct risk assessments on a regular basis. Once you’ve conducted the assessment, you can then go back and update your safety program to better prepare your staff if needed. If you can stay one step ahead of any potential compromises in safety, you and your team will be more comfortable in knowing that safety is a priority and it is under control.
A healthy safety culture is driven by ethics, with everyone involved in the program understanding that the steps to be taken are for the good of others and for the company as a whole, as opposed to being reliant on safety manuals and procedure alone. Make sure that your employees are interested in doing what’s best for each other and the culture instead of simply looking out for themselves or sticking strictly to procedure. With an ethical safety program run by an equally ethical and moral team behind your company, you’ll know that your business is in good hands.
Taking all of these aspects into account, you can develop a good safety program that truly works to preserve your business and safety culture. However, it’s important to work with professionals who have experience with the design and implementation of safety programs in the workplace. If you would like to get started with a safety program today, contact us at any time to schedule a virtual or on-site safety inspection with our knowledgeable experts.