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Completing the Safety Circuit: Employee Involvement

Your company has committed to embracing safety. Excellent! Yet after on-site consultation, hazard correction and controls, and safety and health training, there's another challenge that awaits: employee involvement. In order to have an effective safety culture, your employees must be involved in the process.

Jim Ulseth

Jim Ulseth -- USF SafetyFlorida Safety and Health Consultant

One way to begin is by establishing a corporate safety policy and posting it in a visible place for everyone to see. Especially for new hires, this statement should set the tone for working safely, and let everyone know your level of expectation. It is equally important to communicate to all company stakeholders that working safely is the only way you do business. For example:

  • Employees should understand no one is expected to perform a task until he or she is authorized to do it properly and safely.
  • Subcontractors or tradespeople should sign and adhere to your safety policy before working on-site.
  • Customers should realize safety is an integral part of your company's mission.

Another method to cultivate employee involvement is to lead by personal action. Follow all safety requirements that apply to your employees and become personally involved in the activities of your safety program. You can tap into your employees’ specialized knowledge and encourage them to participate in the safety program by asking them to make inspections, conduct safety trainings and investigate accidents. And you can provide those with safety and health responsibilities the proper resources, including people, time, training, and authority, to get the job done.

I've seen many ways companies engage employees with safety. One example is a manufacturing plant that operates 24-hours a day and required employees to fill out a safety sheet at the end of each shift. The employee would write up any safety issue or hazard they witnessed and provide this for the next shift manager. Another example is a company that set out a clipboard on the shop floor so employees could write down their safety concerns. As management addressed and corrected each issue, the item was crossed through and dated so employees knew the safety item was handled and when.

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You can also involve employees in safety by:

• Asking employees to participate in your company's safety committee

• Adding a safety section to your company's newsletter, spotlighting a "Safe Employee of the Month"

• Allocating time each day or each week to focus on the importance of safety through tool-box talks, workstation clean-up periods and safety forums, where employees and management can talk open about workplace safety improvement

• Offering online safety trainings so employees continuously improve their safety education and knowledge

• Featuring safety games such as safety bingo or cash prize drawings during months when there are no reportable incidents

If you provide your employees the platform to participate, they will rise to the occasion. More importantly, they will develop a sense of ownership and accountability. You'll find them openly discussing safety and health in a manner that will make you proud. Moreover, your employees will plan ways to effectively eliminate potentially hazardous situations and offer viable solutions to create a stronger, safer workplace safety management system. Safety success is a result of everyone working together to accomplish a common goal. Make it your goal to involve employees in the process.

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