The secret to getting people engaged in workplace health and safety
The question, “How do I get my employees engaged in health and safety” is a very common question. We hear it often from companies, big and small. We all know that health and safety initiatives will not succeed without real tangible support throughout the organisation. The word “real” is important here. Anyone can reduce the number of accidents in a corporate report by simply not reporting them or quibbling about what an accident really is just long enough for people to lose interest.
The answer to the question is often seen as complicated and in some organisations, as elusive as the dreaded “zero accidents” slogan. Actually, the answer is very simple and can be achieved by companies without major investment. The secret is to make people care about what happens to them and their colleagues. You’ve heard this before, right? But keep reading, please.
Picture the scene, you’re on an open road in the middle of nowhere, the speed limit is 50 MPH. It’s a sunny day, the top’s down, are you still doing 50? How about if there’s a speed camera, are you still speeding? Now things have changed. The consequences were the very unlikely event of you getting stopped by the authorities, now with the camera, the consequence has changed to the very likely chance of you being caught and fined. In other words, if there’s a certain consequence rather than an unlikely one, we’re all a bit more interested. Now let’s look at the more modern approach that the police use in the UK. If you meet a certain criteria, you don’t have to pay a fine, you attend a speed awareness course instead. What do you get shown at this course, an array of speed limit signs and a reminder that you really should follow them? No, you get shown graphic images of car accidents and stories of how crashes affected lives.
These courses are trying to change the reason we abide by speed limits. We stick to the rules because we don’t want to hurt ourselves or other road users, not because we don’t want to get fined. Herein lies the simple message we need to bring to our workplaces, make it matter to people and for the right reasons. Maybe it’s not as simple as said earlier, but there are still really only three steps:
- Have speed limits – by this I mean have sensible policies and procedures that everyone understands. You wouldn’t be happy with a 30 limit on a standard motorway, so don’t make your workforce complete reams of paperwork to undertake low risk tasks. Listen to them, if they’re not following a rule, maybe there’s a reason.
- Use speed cameras – have a management team from top level to supervisors that will not just walk by when colleagues are acting unsafely. These people are critical and the more senior, the more effective the message. Stop the unsafe acts before they become accidents. And when you stop them………….
- Speed awareness courses – when you stop them, help them to understand why they broke the rule and why it was a bad idea. Get some commitment that they will change their behaviour.
But please remember, the authorities don’t just keeping sending unsafe drivers on courses, eventually they do something more serious.
About the Author
To be completed…
My website is: https://www.eef.org.uk/