Updated: Sep 16
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Creating and maintaining a safe working environment is an important responsibility for every organization. This not only ensures compliance with legal requirements but also promotes a positive brand reputation, improves employee morale, and, ultimately, enhances profitability. However, achieving a high degree of workplace safety can be challenging for some organizations. It requires a balanced approach of empowering and encouraging employees to follow safety protocols and holding them accountable for any unreasonable failures to comply. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges associated with achieving a safe workplace culture and provide actionable tips for achieving workplace safety.
The Workplace Safety Script
Stick to the Script
One of the biggest challenges of achieving a high degree of workplace safety is getting employees to stick to the scripts that outline safety protocols. Scripts are important things, used for movies, television shows, YouTube videos, or even cooking. For the context of workplace safety, scripts are the various policies, programs, and procedures that detail how to work safely. Many safety incidents and property damages occur when employees do not follow these protocols. Therefore, it is crucial to train employees on the importance of adhering to safety protocols and to make them a priority in the workplace culture.
Appropriate Times to Use the Alternate Script
While following the primary safety protocols is vital, it is equally important to recognize when it is necessary to change to alternative protocols. And sometimes, you need to know when to change the protocols themselves. For instance, if a lockout/tagout procedure is known to have recently become ineffective in controlling all energy sources at a machine, employees should not perform lockout/tagout on that machine. Instead, they need to alert their supervision/management of the problem so that it can be solved and the work requiring lockout/tagout can be completed. This highlights the need to have a safety culture that encourages employees to bring up their concerns about problems in the workplace while management addresses them before further work is done.
Involving Employees in Creating Workplace Safety Scripts
Another essential factor in achieving a safe working environment is employee involvement. Smart management involves employees in creating scripts that they will follow. Employee participation in the development of safety protocols creates a sense of ownership and responsibility that makes compliance less of a chore and more of a responsibility that they care about. Moreover, involving employees in the development of safety protocols will give them a better understanding of how to adhere to safety policies and procedures. It's often the case that you learn by doing. But you also learn how to do something by teaching others. If your employees are helping management better understand the equipment, such that effective procedures can be made, there is a fair bit of teaching going on from worker to manager.
A great avenue for incorporating employee input in matters of workplace safety is through the formation of a Safety Committee. If your organization doesn't currently have one, it's highly recommended to establish one. The Safety Committee can be an incredibly effective tool for facilitating safety improvements that align with the company's objectives, rather than opposing them. Make sure that any committee created has a mechanism to strongly encourage active participation in problem-solving. Encourage them to not only point out problems, which is important, but to also aid in solving them.
Combine Theoretical and Practical Expertise
Involving employees directly in the creation of procedures for specific work areas or tasks presents a unique opportunity to leverage their hands-on experience and technical knowledge. For example, a safety professional may understand the theoretical principles of safety, but they might lack the practical expertise to develop comprehensive procedures for operating a complex machine or process. This is where input from the actual operators, those who work with the machinery or process every day, becomes invaluable.
Their practical knowledge, coupled with the theoretical understanding of a safety professional, can lead to the creation of robust, effective safety procedures that are technically sound and practically applicable. It also fosters a sense of shared responsibility towards workplace safety, reinforcing the idea that safety is not just a top-down mandate, but a collective commitment.
Check Safety Protocols
A constant review of workplace safety protocols is crucial to achieving a safe working environment. This helps management identify areas that need improvement and create solutions to address them promptly. Additionally, safety audits and evaluations can lead to the creation of new policies and procedures that lead to a safer working environment. This way, organizations can mitigate the risk of workplace accidents and maintain compliance with legal requirements.
Share Responsibility to Ensure a Safe and Productive Workplace
Ultimately, safety in the workplace is a shared responsibility – it rests not only with management but also with each employee. However, if we merely assume that everyone will naturally adopt this outlook, we set ourselves up for eventual failure. Proactive safety management necessitates a strategic approach that encourages collaboration between management and employees.
By establishing a clear safety protocol, providing regular training, and fostering an environment where safety concerns can be openly addressed, we lay the foundation for practical safety. This approach not only mitigates risk but also aligns with the company's primary goals. Remember, a safe workplace is a productive one, and nothing should take precedence over the health and well-being of employees. Together, we can create a work culture that values safety as much as it values success.
Achieving a high degree of workplace safety is a challenge for many organizations. However, it is a challenge worth overcoming. Empowering employees to help create and follow the safety scripts for their work, recognizing when to change safety rules, and consistently evaluating workplace safety scripts are the actionable tips for achieving effective, practical workplace safety. By prioritizing a safe working environment, organizations can improve their reputation, keep employees safe and motivated, and ultimately, enhance profitability.