When your business is overwhelmed with projects and deadlines, it’s easy for workplace safety to take a back seat. You are focused on getting the work done, which often takes priority. However, consistently upholding a healthy safety culture, no matter how busy your company is, can go a long way toward improving your workplace efficiency.
Safety culture goes beyond meeting the bare minimum compliance standards. A strong safety culture puts workplace safety at the forefront, which, in turn, motivates your employees to uphold desired practices. When safety is embedded in company culture, workers won’t hesitate to speak up to their peers and leaders with safety concerns.
Overall, a strong safety culture can help your company operate more efficiently by preventing safety incidents. Team members that are safe will feel safe, allowing them to perform their best work.
How Does Safety Culture Drive Efficiency?
You likely consider your team as your biggest asset, and you should! You have meticulously assembled a talented and valuable team. When you provide them with the resources to get the job done, you are giving them opportunities for innovation.
One of these key resources is a strong safety culture. This will provide your team with a safe environment where they can show up and focus. When you care for and protect your team, you drive team member loyalty, retention, and performance. They want to be here!
A robust safety culture will likely permeate other aspects of your business too. Other work areas will be positively impacted as you invest in team discipline, empowerment, decision making, effective communication, and other leadership skills. Holding your team accountable to high safety standards will help them take ownership of their work, creating an autonomous and efficient team that cares about the quality of their work.
3 Ways to Drive Safety Culture in Your Workplace
Leaders empower safety culture when they demonstrate safe behaviors and prompt constructive conversations between peers and leaders.
Providing resources for a strong safety culture makes it easy for team members to hold themselves and others accountable for safety in a constructive and respectful manner.
1. Model Safe Behavior: Show Them How It’s Done!
Having a culture dedicated to safety isn’t something you can require without putting in the work yourself. Team members look up to their leaders to demonstrate desired company behaviors.
This means your leadership team will need to get on board with a safety culture first and model safe behavior and practices in their day-to-day work. This can include everything from proactively correcting safety hazards to reporting safety issues appropriately.
Remember that safety behavior also includes safe language. Your leadership team will need to be educated and equipped to communicate in ways that both encourage safety practices and make team members feel safe within their community.
2. Observe and Coach: Watch and Listen
Observe your team to determine strengths and opportunities in safety practices. Coaching unsafe situations in a constructive way will enable your team to stay mindful of opportunities to make safe decisions, especially if they know it is expected of them by their leaders. Coaching equips them with the tools needed to appropriate address safety issues going forward.
Encourage your team to “see something, say something.” All safety concerns are preventable, and team members may observe safety concerns due to their unique perspective that leaders may miss.
As a leader, if you see an unsafe situation with witnesses, it is a good practice to speak to everyone involved. Discuss ways the scenario could have gone differently had the leader not intervened.
Safety issues that go unaddressed can give the perception that small concerns aren’t as important as seemingly larger ones. However, small concerns can snowball into larger problems. Addressing all safety concerns in a timely manner is key.
Keep in mind that employees can be reluctant to report issues for fear of negative attention. Make sure your team is encouraged and rewarded for upholding the valued safety culture.
3. Provide Empowerment and Support: You’ve Got This!
Taking the time to host safety workshops for your team will not only give them the tools needed to drive safety culture, but it will also emphasize how seriously your company considers safety.
Regular workshops that include training sessions and group conversations will encourage safety culture. This can serve as a space for team members to vocalize their concerns about safety, troubleshoot preventative measures, and have constructive conversations so everyone is more prepared during critical moments.
Spend time having constructive conversations about safety with your team. Often, team members want to say something about safety concerns, but they don’t know how to without being perceived negatively. Focus on how they can deliver the message and emphasize yourself as a resource.
You want your team to be able to communicate with each other, so empower them to do this without becoming too involved yourself. Your role is to assist the concerned team member, giving them resources to have safety conversations with their peers. Then, as you observe the unsafe behavior they were concerned with, correct the issue independently of the information you already have. Be patient and utilize positive reinforcement when correcting behaviors.
Remember, great relationships foster effective communication.
Workshops should include role-play scenarios based on previous and potential incidents. This practice will empower your team to speak directly to their peers in real life situations. When peers can hold each other accountable for safety, a healthy safety culture has been established!
Review Reporting Practices
Safety workshops should also include time to review reporting practices. Help your team understand the value of reporting and how it helps the business not only correct current issues but prevent future incidents.
Employees may fear too much attention or backlash from making reports, so frequently discussing the reporting expectations and demonstrating how reports can be used will help your team feel more comfortable, Making reports yourself will also help your team sees that these safety practices apply to all levels of the staff.
Get EHS Support
Driving a strong safety culture in your workplace is one of the best things you can do not just for your employees, but also for your company’s bottom line. A robust safety culture can help your company operate more efficiently by strengthening team accountability and preventing incidents and liabilities, therein providing employees with an environment where they can perform their best work.
If you need help developing practices that can drive your safety culture, contact Tetra Tech’s Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) experts at [email protected]. Our Certified Safety Professionals can support you in developing a successful safety program to protect your workers and increase business efficiencies.