Fact: 98% of safety professionals believe that increasing the level of worker participation in safety will improve safety performance.
But even though the majority of EHS leaders feel this way, participation in our workplace safety programs still isn’t where we want it or need it to be to keep preventable incidents from happening. In the past, safety leaders have invested in a number of strategies to improve safety performance to various degrees of success – behavior based safety programs, toolbox talks and incentive systems, just to name a few. But it’s time to be real with ourselves: to effectively mitigate risk, break new ground in safety performance and eliminate workplace incidents – it’s time for a change in approach. It’s time to embrace participation-based safety.
Participation-Based Safety: What Is It?
A number of forward-thinking EHS leaders are rethinking their approaches to safety management and pivoting towards participation-based safety, an emerging methodology that ties together safety culture, employee engagement and of course, active participation in the safety process. Unlike other safety methodologies, participation-based safety takes a top-down, data-driven approach to safety management, effectively fostering and measuring participation in safety at all levels of the organization from senior leadership to frontline workers to drive continuous improvement.
In a participation-based safety culture, everyone in the company is aligned on a common set of safety goals and works together to achieve them. The EHS leader is the conduit that facilitates company-wide participation – promoting proactive participation on the frontlines, tracking and measuring the quality and frequency of participation, and regularly reporting on and sharing participation performance results with executives.
Why Participation-Based Safety? Why Now?
We recently sat down with Dr. Judy Agnew, Senior Vice President of Safety Solutions at Aubrey Daniels International to talk about why participation-based safety is the way forward. To put it simply, Dr. Agnew says that although as a profession we’ve done great work and have improved safety performance dramatically over the last 5-10 years, we’ve since plateaued. We’re not continuing to eliminate risks and incidents at the velocity we need to because we’ve done everything we know how to do. To take our EHS programs to the next level, we need to focus on safety culture, engagement and participation, because that’s where the biggest opportunity is for driving safety performance improvements going forward.
Benefits of Participation-Based Safety
In our recent survey of over 500 EHS professionals in conjunction with EHS Daily Advisor, Participation Counts, we asked participants what the three biggest benefits are of high levels of participation in safety and the results are very telling – they’re all linked to measurements of safety performance improvements:
– Lowers injury and incident rates
– Increases employee accountability
– Improves workplace productivity
Given the power of participation, it’s not surprising that 81% of EHS leaders are looking to increase worker participation in safety in the next 12 months. To learn more about participation-based safety and how to improve participation in your program, read our new guide, Rethinking Safety: An Introduction to PBS.