“The Impact of Technology on Health and Safety,” a recent survey conducted by BLR revealed that over 68% of safety professionals believe that if more employees had participated in their safety program, the number of recordable incidents could have been reduced.
In fact, over 30% of respondents believe that more than 20% of workplace incidents could have been prevented if worker engagement was increased and less than 3% of respondents believed that increasing worker engagement would have no effect on the number of incidents.
This data demonstrates a positive correlation between worker engagement and the effectiveness of health and safety programs. In other words, the survey results suggest that the more your workers participate in the safety program, the safer the workplace will be.
If your colleagues are actively participating in the safety program, then they are aware of and consistently identifying the potential hazards they could be facing, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure that they are working safely. Naturally, this results in fewer incidents. Therefore, if you’re hoping to reduce the number of incidents at your organization or just improve your safety performance overall, improving worker engagement in your safety program is a step in the right direction. The question is, however, how do we increase worker engagement?
19% of respondents in the BLR survey stated that lack of management support was the biggest barrier for employee participation. Lack of training was a close second with 18% of respondents selecting it. Using this information, we can infer that worker engagement can increase if we overcome these barriers to participation.
Increasing Management Support for Safety
In order for safety programs to be truly effective, it needs to be a top down effort. In other words, if you want your workers to care about safety, your management team needs to demonstrate that they also care about safety. It’s understood that no one wants their employees to get hurt. However, not wanting incidents to occur is not the same as showing support for your safety program. Management may very well be supportive of your safety program but just struggling to effectively demonstrate it.
If you want to increase worker engagement, management needs to actively demonstrate support for the safety program, and a key to do so is to lead by example and engage the process. Management can engage the process by setting safety goals, reporting on KPIs and sharing the results with the rest of the company, making site visits, or responding to hazards and ensuring corrective actions are efficiently closed. If your management team participates in the process, then employees will as well.
Another way to show management support for safety is by creating a positive incentive program for those who work safely. Acknowledge and honor your safest workers. You can do this simply by recognizing their efforts during a safety meeting, toolbox talk or at a company-wide event. You could also create an internal award for the safest employee or one that demonstrates safety leadership qualities. Celebrating those who participate actively in your safety program can really demonstrate management’s support for your program overall and encourage your workers to do so as well.
Ensure Effective Employee Training
Properly training your employees not only ensures that they know how to do their job safely but has also been suggested to help improve engagement in your safety program. However, guaranteeing that your employees are up-to-date on their safety training is easier said than done. In high-turn over industries, it can be hard to keep up with training new hires and tracking seasoned workers’ retraining schedules. If you use leading indicators at your organization, one way to ensure your employees’ training is up-to-date is to start tracking it. Tracking metrics surrounding employee training can help you keep on top of it and close the gap between the number of trained and untrained employees. For suggestions on how to use leading indicators to decrease your employee training gaps, check out our Leading Indicators: Guide to Success.
Another way to bridge the gap between trained and untrained employees is to abandon the status quo of paper processes supported by Excel and embrace technology. Web-based safety software can alleviate the administrative burden of having to manually track employee training records. Safety software allows you to import all of your employee profiles and training records into the system so you can simply pull retraining reports to see who requires new training or retraining. It also sends you automatic notifications up to 6 months before employee training expires, which gives you plenty of time to plan and execute training or retraining for your employees.
The BLR survey showed that a majority of safety professionals believe that increasing worker participation in safety at every site, division, department, etc. can reduce the number of incidents and provided a number of suggestions for ways to do so – the top two being: increasing management support and employee training. By listening to your peers and encouraging management to actively demonstrate a commitment to safety or proactively managing training controls, you can increase worker participation in your safety program and ultimately, reduce the number of incidents.