The safest and most productive workplaces are ones where safety practices have become part of the everyday business and second nature to workers.
Such a major shift might not be possible overnight but you can help get your workers on the right track by encouraging them not just to think and talk about safety, but to also look out for hazards and each other.
And to nurture a successful safety culture, you need to reassure workers that it is okay to report a potential hazard or unsafe work practice, or share ideas about how to do the task better. As renowned US workplace safety expert, John Drebinger, points out, workers should always be praised and thanked for raising concerns.
‘That’s how you create a safety culture: to make people feel so good they’re looking for the next person to help. Pointing out hazards becomes expected when everyone does it and gets praised for it,’ he said.
So stress to your workers that by keeping an eye on co-workers’ safety, their own safety awareness will improve and if everyone does the same, then the chances of incidents could dramatically drop.
Creating a good safety culture requires you to respond quickly to unsafe work practices and demonstrates a commitment to safety. Workers need to see that reporting is encouraged with a ‘no blame’ attitude and acted upon via appropriate measures to eliminate or minimise risks.
It’s best to ask your workers what risks are involved with a job as they may have good ideas about how to do it more safely. If workers are, for example, cutting corners, this could be because they have insufficient time, working space, resources, or necessary equipment requiring maintenance.
Any safe work procedure changes should be done in consultation with workers and followed up with refresher training and tool box talks.
If you can get all of your workers singing from the same song book, then the chances of every one being able to return home to loved ones safely at the end of a working day will be greatly improved.
Visit safetystartswithyou.nsw.gov.au and start a conversation about safety today.