American employers pay an average of $1 billion per week for workers’ compensation premiums—that’s not including any medical and legal fees that may be incurred. Even minor incidents can have a palpable effect on your productivity and, ultimately, your bottom line, but implementing an effective safety program requires more than just staying abreast of the latest safety and compliance regulations.
Establishing a culture of safety as part of your organization’s overarching goals can help reduce overhead and incidents, as well as streamline your operations. When it comes to workplace safety, we’ve found that focusing on human performance and employee engagement allows you to establish an integrated safety program that is easily embraced and maintained by your team.
So how do you encourage employee engagement?
Perception of Safety
It’s often said that perception is everything, so with that in mind, it’s important to understand your employees’ perception of safety and their work environment as a whole. Employees who feel that their insights and concerns are heard and valued are more committed to their work and the overall success of the company—rather than simply working toward their next paycheck. The actions taken in response to employee concerns and reports of near-miss incidents can affect their perception of workplace safety and impact the way they handle future hazards. Supporting a culture of trust and participation empowers employees to contribute to safety goals by reporting observations without fear of retribution, enabling your organization to identify and correct safety inefficiencies before they turn into accidents.
Assess your employees’ current perception of workplace safety initiatives and, together, work to develop a process that assures their reports will be taken seriously.
A strong way of aiding the perception of workplace safety is using the time during toolbox talks to engage with your team on those issues. Using toolbox talks to hold these type of conversations are also a great way to keep your team informed on the latest safety trainings, new equipment that will be used and hazards they may encounter while working in a specific area. Be sure to encourage discussion and cooperation in these talks to achieve the best results and grow each worker’s perception of safety.
The key to establishing and maintaining an effective culture of safety is actively seeking employee participation. Employees who are involved in defining safety procedures and policies feel a sense of ownership and are more inclined to adhere to company programs. Involving employees in problem-solving, safety observations, inspections and training helps to cultivate a company culture that values employee input and effort, and encourages both employees and leadership to share joint ownership of your organization’s safety strategy.
Provide opportunities for your employees to participate in establishing an effective safety program by identifying areas of improvement and specific actions to drive change. Guide the discussion and support the voice of those who bear the risks.
Build safety into the core of your business. Aligning safety initiatives with your company’s larger goals and objectives can help to increase your overall success. By investing in the continued growth and development of your employees, you’re not only improving employee retention but also supporting the growth of your organization as a whole. With safety as part of your company’s core values, you’re encouraging internal commitment, responsibility and accountability across all organizational levels.
Set your employees and company up for success by providing ongoing training, coaching and resources that reinforce your organization’s commitment to its integrated safety program.
With clearly defined expectations and a vision for safety based on employee input, it’s important that your leadership team tracks progress and holds employees accountable for meeting these expectations. Employees want to see the results of their efforts. Recognizing and rewarding company progress and performance empowers your employees to continue to work toward your shared safety goals.
Turn safety efforts into a source of pride by developing a system of formal, informal and on-the-spot gestures to show appreciation for safe behaviors and employee engagement. Without active participation and commitment of all employees, establishing and maintaining a culture of safety is nearly impossible.
Engaged employees produce higher quality work, go out of their way to assist others and provide feedback on ways to increase efficiency and reduce accidents. With proper direction and support, these employees have the potential to create a safer, more productive workplace environment. Call (337)242-7886 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how Pharma-Safe can help your team establish an effective culture of safety through employee engagement.