Do this to get workers on-board with your safety strategy

By Ray Bedson on May 1st, 2018
  1. Risk Management
  2. Workplace Safety


As a business-owner, you can devise the greatest ever health and safety strategy, but if your workers don’t buy in, it could be as ineffective as the worse one.

It is important to establish objectives and targets around safety performance to measure continual improvement, benchmark against other organisations and establish incentive or reward systems for employees.

But one of the best ways to get workers on-board is to give them a say in a health and safety program that affects them personally.

You can better motivate workers to participate in safety programs when they can influence or lead in the improvement of safety measures. To do this you need to focus on positive performance indicators (PPIs) not just key performance indicators (KPIs), which are often what management is concerned with.

6 PPIs that workers can contribute to

  1. Attendance at meetings and training sessions (as a percentage of those invited).
  2. Time taken to close out a corrective action (in number of days).
  3. Number of safety conversations (per day or week).
  4. Adherence to personal protective equipment (PPE) practices.
  5. Number of hazards reported.
  6. Quality of documentation (e.g. safe work method statements (SWMS), pre-start checks, toolbox minutes).

Measure the impact in dollars

Another approach that gets the attention of your workers is to measure the impact of safety in terms of dollars. Your safety budget and expenditure should be a talking point in your organisation, but it is often not shared with workers.

Safety should be seen as a profitable investment and no different to any other financial reporting. You can set dollar targets and budgets for costs incurred, which would motivate the workforce to participate.

Safety costs you can report on to employees are:

  • What the company spends on PPE.
  • How much the company invests in training, including work-hours spent in training, enrolment costs, training provider costs, licences, renewals and qualifications.
  • Plant and equipment costs – upgrades and replacement, not just repairs and maintenance costs but design and safety upgrades where the newer plant items are quieter, better ergonomically, properly guarded and/or more automated … and safer for workers.
  • The amount spent on first aid, facilities and amenities, such as lighting improvements, noise reductions, heating, cooling and ventilation improvements, ergonomics and the like that lead to a reduction in negative health effects.

Other costs, such as Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums, injury and medical costs – including audiometric and health monitoring – could also be displayed (avoid any confidentiality breaches).

Display results where they can be seen

Restricting access to the results of safety performance will obviously make them less meaningful. If the only time the results are discussed is in a board meeting or a safety committee meeting, then the audience is very limited.

Make the information easy to understand and display it in prominent places in the workplace.

Ideally, you will be able to display PPIs and results on noticeboards, entrance points to site, in lunch rooms or where toolbox meetings are held. Make the information bold and clear. Use infographics, charts, pictures, graphs and diagrams so that the visual message is strong.

The old saying: ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is true and assists where language or literacy are barriers to written information (especially when health and safety discussions can sometimes come across as being a bit ‘dry’.

Invest in some visual display boards and TV monitors to grab the attention of workers and visitors.

Keep information updated

Make sure the information you display is current. Old information on workplace noticeboards, intranets, websites, etc, will derail the perception that your business values the safety of its workers. Delegate the task of keeping the information up to date to workers, their representatives, supervisors and others who will appreciate being involved and accountable for their own displays.

Celebrate successes

Workers appreciate being part of a successful team. Publicly reward and recognise employees when they achieve targets and when performance is improving.

If you engage with the workers as much as you can to make them feel included, their contribution will encourage sustained improvement.

6 ways to improve safety

  1. Keep the message simple.
  2. Make it easy to define and interpret.
  3. Rely on a balance of lag and lead indicators.
  4. Use visual ‘in-your-face’ information.
  5. Keep your safety message topical and updated.
  6. Use a lot of visual and pictorial displays.

These steps are essential in making meaningful safety measures that employees will understand. Check regularly that the performance measures remain within the responsibilities and accountabilities of the entire workforce. In this way, significant safety improvements and culture change can be embedded into your organisation.

If you don’t have all the information you need at your fingertips to help you develop a fully-fledged safety strategy, you can find it in the Health & Safety Handbook.

Take a look through chapters C3 Consultation, Representatives and Committees; H4 Health and Safety Policies and Procedures; S1 Safe Operating Procedures; S5 Supervision of Safe Work, and W4 Workplace Design, Modification and Purchasing.

These are just some of the 70-plus chapters found in the Handbook, all written in plain English by the health and safety lawyers at Holding Redlich with the purpose of making your workplace safe and productive.

Subscribe today and see what a difference good, clear advice can mean to your business.


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