Safety climate reflects Leadership part 2

8 Ways to set the example

Employees need to observe real safety commitment from their leaders. If they are not convinced, they will not take it to heart. The following recommendations are important for every company leader to examine closely.

  • 1. Be a role model
    • Put into practice they very safety ideal you preach
    • Wear all the PPE according to your company policy
      • Hardhats, reflective vest, boots, ear plugs, safety glasses, even safety harnesses
    • Obey all safety rules
      •  Obey restricted areas, no smoking areas, no cell phone requirements at the site or driving

Following the rules is vital. You might reason that you are just doing a brief walk through, but employees only see you as an office elitist breaking the rules. Although legally a person might be able to do a brief inspection on a roof without tying in, employees aren’t considering the legal nuance. They see you making an exception to the rule. So, if you can do it, why can’t they?

  • 2. Be visible
    • Often, employees only see their direct supervisor; periodic management visits send a strong message that you care
    • When management rises and follows number 1, employees will take to heart what they say
    • Speak with workers and listen to concerns
      • Employees will more likely value this effort, take the message to heart, and apply it
  • 3. Participate in meetings
    • Leaders and management should actively participate in meetings:
      • Discuss and review hazards
      • Initiate discussion on safety in other meetings as well
      • Encourage direct communication between employees and management  
      • Taking these actions are effective in demonstrating to all employees that the company values them and understands safety
  • 4. Have safety policies, procedures, and guidelines that are aligned with other company priorities
    • Include appropriate safety language into applicable policies and procedures. Examples are:
      • Review critical operating plans for safety factors
      • Factor in safety supplies when bidding

When employees see safety built into the fabric of company operations, they will trust that the company values them and their safety.

  • 5. Have a formal process for corrective action
    • Don’t play the “blame and shame” game
    • Take all employee safety concerns seriously and promptly address them
    • Have a formal process for reporting and responding to safety concerns
    • Conduct investigations on accidents, incidents or employee concerns; determine the root, cause not someone to blame
    • Review all incident reports, determine contributing factors, and communicate their findings to all employees
    • Have a process to show employees how issues raised are addressed to validate concerns and improve morale
    • Track hazards and injuries to identify systematic problems and trends in safety

If employee concerns are ignored, or if there is retaliation, they will be less likely to report hazards in the future. However, having a formal action plan that responds to employee concerns reflects a strong commitment to safety and reinforces the message that employee contributions are valued. Employee involvement helps to create a positive safety culture.

  • 6. Job Hazard Analyses
    • Conduct job hazard analyses using safety audits or other tools
      • Safety audits help identify where changes to processes and products are needed to eliminate hazards
    • Encourage employees to proactively identify hazards and report close calls and injuries
      • This should be rewarded, not punished
  • 7. Investment
    • Put your money where your mouth is; written safety policies and procedures must include enough resources (money) to implement and maintain an effective safety program
    • Allocate resources for:
      • OSHA 10 and 30 training for everyone in the company
      • Purchasing and providing appropriate PPE for everyone on jobsites
      • Investing in a kit for collecting and analyzing information on incidents and near miss data and reporting changes

In the end, talking and having a written document is meaningless if the company doesn’t demonstrate its commitment to prevention and continuous improvement by actions.

  • 8. Consider immigrant employees
    • Extra effort is be required to assure them that they are valuable members of the team
    • Remove language barriers.
      • Using a professional interpreter
      • Training in their language
      • Making SDS sheets available in their language
    • Confidentially survey them to determine bias and concerns that they have

Hispanics are 30 percent of construction workforce and have a disproportionately higher percentage of injuries. To ignore this in your safety program is to leave a wide-open gap for potential problems.

Well, hot dog! We just considered 8 ways for management and leadership to set the example.  This is just the first piece to a much larger puzzle when evaluating the safety culture/climate of a company.

Please share with me your opinions below.

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