If you’re like many safety professionals, you spend your days (and probably nights, too) working on and thinking about ways to make your workplace safer. Unfortunately, this can all come to naught without one thing your workers need to develop: A sense of safety awareness — building safety into the way your workers think about things.
Without it, workers won’t wear their PPE, or won’t wear it properly. They won’t make full use of the safety features built into their equipment; and they won’t observe basic rules, such as those of good housekeeping, that can prevent accidents. Without safety awareness, workers might think about production, their compensation, or tonight’s softball game but not safety.
To get them to do so, follow these guidelines.
- Develop a Safety Manual. This book, given to new workers on day one, should pool safety information from department managers, equipment and tool manufacturers, and workplace safety experts. It should include startup and lockdown procedures, types of activity to avoid at work, and proper attire for operating equipment.
- Name a Safety Champion. Choose one employee in each work area to research and report on safety at regular safety or department meetings. It’s amazing how often workers take to this responsibility. In one organization, the safety coordinator subscribes to safety magazines and continually contacts safety organizations to bring his co-workers the best and latest information. The gratitude of his colleagues is his only payment
- Hold a Safety Event. Let employees plan and carry out safety demonstrations or create exhibits for these events, which can be either freestanding or part of larger company gatherings. This is an ideal time to hold contests or distribute safety awards. You can also invite guest speakers from vendors or safety or trade associations.
- Build Safety into Employee Communications. Every employee contact from daily e-mails to paycheck stuffers to newsletters should stress workplace safety. The more you focus on safety, the more it will become a core value for your organization. Don’t forget posters and how to display them properly. This means locating safety messages so they won’t drown in a sea of EEOC and Wage and Hour announcements. Make sure that these messages get priority placement in work areas and aren’t covered by other postings as time passes.