How to Build Safety Commitment in the Workplace

Safety First - Warning SignWorkers’ safety is among the top priorities on every company’s itinerary, but listing safety standards is only half the battle. Employees must be encouraged to commit to these guidelines and to feel accountable when they are broken.

Although punishing workers for not following safety rules will reduce the likelihood of the same incident happening again, this type of negative reinforcement can be avoided by using some constructive techniques. Would you rather an employee work harder because of fear or because he or she wants to be a productive team member?

3 Ways to Encourage Safe Behavior in the Workplace

1. Be open to worker feedback.

If workers show the initiative of approaching a higher-up with a new idea, a request or even a complaint, their points should be considered. Don’t be indifferent or too impersonal—although you represent the company’s interests, maintaining workers’ confidence should be a top business concern.

Actively requesting input is a smart way to improve the work environment and engage employees. Host weekly or bi-monthly meetings to brainstorm new ideas, and mention selfless contributions of workers during those meetings.

2. Give employees credit when it’s deserved.

Whether it’s an industrial warehouse or a dentist’s office, employers should take every opportunity available to give credit to workers. If an employee goes above and beyond the expectations of the company, whether by providing a simple suggestion or by beating a quota, they’re a lot more likely to continue that behavior if it’s noticed by higher-ups.

Recognize the action, praise it and reward it, especially if the behavior encourages workplace safety. That’s a potential workers’ compensation claim that they’re preventing, and their contributions to the company’s cause might encourage others to do the same. At the very least, mention the deed at an employee meeting.

3. Demonstrate correct behavior.

Forget about special treatment—that just develops a “them v. us” mentality. This can promote a careless working environment.

Always model correct behavior, especially when it comes to following safety rules and procedures. Why would employees waste their time on a task that’s so unimportant that their boss skips it?

Tip: Communication is key. Taking suggestions and addressing employee grievances will encourage safe productivity.

Checking plans on digital tablet

Maintaining Industrial Workplace Safety

If your company requires the regular operation of a forklift, it’s important that all operators understand how to minimize the risk of injury to themselves and to coworkers. Forklifts carry heavy loads through uncontrolled traffic areas, which is why they’re involved in so many industrial accidents.

Remember:

  • At low speeds, forklifts still can cause fatalities or injuries.
  • The forklift operator is not the only one at risk; coworkers can be struck by the forklift.
  • Develop a risk-management system before a death or injury takes place; don’t wait until it’s too late.

Ensure that the equipment is being safely operated and encourage employees to take safety standards seriously, and the risk of workplace injuries will reduce greatly.

Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for National Forklift Exchange.  He is part of the MHEDA Executive Dialogue and writes frequently on safety and best practices in the material handling industry.  You can connect with Tom via Twitter @TomReddon

 

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