The challenge of getting everyone more involved in safety

Date Posted: 02/13/2023
Workplace safety group meeting

A common challenge for safety professionals is getting employees and supervisors more involved in safety and more supportive of safety. Reasons that employees and supervisors don’t support safety could include that they don’t understand the value, or they simply choose not to engage and instead focus on production or other priorities.

Perhaps the question should not be “how do we get everyone to participate?” but rather “how can we get them to CHOOSE to participate?” One possible answer could involve showing them the value of safety.

Incentives with purpose

Employers commonly offer incentives for participation in safety activities, such as hosting a pizza party, offering prizes, or using similar methods to get employees more involved. These efforts do encourage participation, at least for the duration of the event, and may help demonstrate that the company values safety. Unfortunately, some employees participate for the payout, then return to the job without increasing their long-term investment in safety.

Events and activities can be worthwhile by increasing participation and awareness, and even making safety “fun.” However, workers should not participate only for the free food or prizes. While you have their attention, consider how to show them the value of safety and how it impacts them personally.

We do this for you

Obviously, employers must comply with OSHA regulations, and injuries take away from profits. An unsafe work environment creates other consequences such as increased turnover, decreased job satisfaction, and decreased productivity. These all cost the employer time and money. But beyond that, you just don’t want anyone getting hurt!

Some employees might express opinions like “the company only cares about money.” While every employer needs to worry about the bottom line, remind workers that safety rules keep them safe. The company might pay the cost of injuries, but workers pay the price — and you don’t want them getting hurt.

Numerous studies show that most employees would choose appreciation over money or prizes. Everyone wants to feel valued. To make people want to support safety, they need to understand how safety benefits them, and recognize that the company values them.

Your company invests time and resources on safety training, audits, and enforcement. Let your employees know, “We do this for you!” Show workers how safety benefits them, not just the company’s bottom line.

We need your help

Ideally, employees will actively promote safety. Safety professionals know that a successful program requires active participation. As one step, give workers “to do” items rather than “do not” items. Minor changes in how you express the rules and expectations can increase their “to do” items. For example:

Instead of saying, “Do not block the exit door,” try saying, “Make sure the exit route is always clear.” Get as specific as possible, so instead of saying, “Keep the workplace clean,” try saying, “Immediately clean up any trash or spills that you notice.”

By giving them action items and describing how these rules benefit them, you can hopefully encourage them to take a more active role in their own safety. The ultimate goal is getting everyone to continually watch for hazards, support one another’s efforts, and immediately address or report any problems. Safety doesn’t just go along with the job; it is part of the job!

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How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Safety Topic Webcasts

Getting employees and supervisors more involved in safety is a challenge, but where do you start? For some new ideas, watch our archived webcast “The Human Side of Safety” from February 16, 2023. This presentation will offer suggestions to overcome objections, address worker motivations, and increase their participation in safety. We’ll include many ideas that our experts gathered over years of discussions with safety professionals facing similar challenges. Log in or start a free trial to watch the webcast today!

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