Empowering Employees part 2

In the previous blog, we discussed why it is so important for companies to seek participation and opinions from employees in order to have a vibrant safety culture. Superior military vehicles were developed as a result of designers seeking input from soldiers on the ground.  What are some ways a company can empower its employees? The following are some examples.  

  • Encourage employee involvement   
    • Start with site orientations that encourage employees to become involved in safety. Do:
      1. Inform employees of potential hazards
      1. Encourage them to identify and address hazardous conditions themselves
      1. Authorize employees to stop work if they see a hazardous situation
      1. Stopping a hazard should be considered an obligation
      1. Employees must be assured that there will be no reprisal for their actions
    • Use site orientations to inform employees of:
      1. Jobsite safety and health plans,
      1. key health and safety procedures
      1. people on the site, and how to contact them.
    • Try a coaching and mentoring program to reinforce the knowledge gained and positive behaviors attained.

By the end of the orientation, employees should understand their safety and health rights, including their right to consult in safety-related decision making. 

  • Briefings
    • Everyone on-site should participate in pre-task planning and job hazard analysis.
    • Daily morning or afternoon meetings (tool box talks) are an opportunity to:
      • Involve and empower employees on an ongoing basis.
      • Everyone should participate in discussions about:
        • The work they are doing,
        • The potential hazards associated with the work, and
        • How hazards can be diminished to avoid injuries and exposures. 
        • Encourage them to ask questions and share their ideas
  • Regular Inspections
    • Encourage different employees to join you for walk-arounds throughout the work day
    • Afternoon inspections are needed because conditions often change as the day progresses.
    • When employees participate with management, everyone is kept in the loop.
      • It ensures two-way conversations between management and employees,
      • encourages employee involvement in identifying safety issues and suggestions,
      • demonstrates that safety is valued
  • Anonymous Reporting

Let’s face it, some employees will never be comfortable speaking directly to their supervisors.

  • Create an easy way for employees to communicate anonymously.
    • Perhaps a suggestion box
    • Call in number
  • Anonymous suggestion boxes or a call-in number empowers employees to make suggestions or address concerns when trust may be a problem.
  • Place boxes in multiple locations where secrecy can be maintained, and periodically remind and encourage employees to use them.
  • Management should communicate how problems were fixed
  • Even if you don’t know who submitted the suggestion, thank employees for the recognize good suggestions.
  • Surveys
    • Get feedback using periodic surveys and chatting during the workday
    • Employees feel empowered when they are asked directly for their opinions about ways to improve the jobsite safety climate.
    • Provide the option for anonymous or in person surveys. 
    • Surveys should be administered by a third party and can be effective for finding differences in safety perceptions between workers and supervisors. (By the way, we do that! Shameless plug)
    •  Employees should be approached and interviewed in a non-threatening manner by a trusted source.  Perhaps a co-worker on a safety committee.
    • Interviewing employees as they leave the jobsite can be a good way to learn about issues that may be contributing to a negative safety climate
  • Joint safety committee
    • Create joint employee-management safety committees to address safety and health concerns.
      • These committees focus on identifying and addressing jobsite safety concerns.
      • Their collaborative nature regarding power and responsibility for safety-related decision-making helps produce mutual trust between management and employees.
      • When an employee is part of a committee, the other employees have someone they can feel comfortable sharing concerns. There is also trust as progress is reported back to them.
      • Prompt follow-through on concerns, demonstrates the company takes employees’ suggestions seriously, which encourages employees to stay involved and engaged in implementing safety.
  • Immigrant employees
    • Often feel like outsiders
    • Feel undervalued
    • Have limited understanding of English

Special effort in understanding their issues and concerns and following up with progress reports will go a long way in creating a safety environment that integrates immigrant culture into the company safety climate.

So far this year in this series of safety culture blogs, we have considered management commitment, written safety programs, accountability, training leaders and now empowering employees.  Next up how good communication factors in a strong safety climate.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *