8 Workplace Safety Topics That Improve Culture

Category: Workplace Safety

When it comes to workplace safety, you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, you have an incredibly powerful safety reinforcement team standing by; you just may not realize it yet. This untapped team is the greater employee base (office staff included) at your organization and the culture they help define each and every day. Help your culture become one that exudes the key concepts of safety, and you’ll be on your way to addressing all kinds of safety issues like never before.

Here are 8 workplace safety topics to help get you started.

1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Introductions
Chances are that workers at your facility or in the field require some form of PPE. It could be PPE that’s as simple as ear plugs or as substantial as a fire proximity suit. But who at your facility knows why these items must be used, or how they help protect workers? The answer should be ‘everyone.’

Be as specific as possible. If you’re showing off required ear plugs, first define the safe decibel levels for workers. Then define the levels that workers at your facility may encounter, and how those ear plugs mitigate that risk. Play up why that particular PPE was sourced. After all, if required PPE is a big deal, and safety truly is responsible for all kinds of benefits to your company, then everyone should be in the know about how PPE keeps workers safe.

2. PPE Success Stories (or PPE Hall of Fame)
This could be as simple as photos posted to your electronic message board or as fancy as a display case that shows PPE that actually saved a life or a limb. You could also use this space to give examples of PPE that is worn out and ready for exchange. Provide a workplace safety tip alongside each item to help reinforce safety protocols. Just make sure this information is in a place where all employees can see it.

3. The Softer Side of Safety
If your current job safety programs resemble little more than top-down demands, then it’s time to leverage employees themselves for safety messaging. Ask everyone (not just those who must attend safety meetings) to submit the reasons why they stay safe. Is it because a particular loved-one relies upon them? Find some way to show off these responses. Posters, digital signage, photos: whatever you choose, make sure it’s easy to update. The more that all workers see why everyone wants to stay safe, the more they’ll realize just how much is at stake.

4. Spot the Safety Issues
Sometimes a potential safety issue will stick out like a sore thumb, other times it’s hidden in plain sight. That’s why it’s important to have all eyes looking out for safety. It’s time to start educating the entire company, especially if there’s a chance that they (or a visitor) could enter an area where there are potential hazards.

But rather than subject everyone to sit-down safety meetings, try an approach that’s a bit more fun. Mock up a photo that includes a staged safety issue. Challenge everyone to find the issue. Then be sure to reward those who got it right. Make this reward a very public and positive event. That way, they’ll be sure to participate the next time you issue a ‘spot the safety issue’ challenge.

5. Weather Alerts
You would think that in today’s world of early morning weathercasts and mobile weather apps, notifying employees about weather conditions and hazardous roadways wouldn’t be all that important. But when you post a heads-up weather alert message on your workplace digital signage or make a facility-wide P.A. announcement toward the start or end of a shift, you’re really reinforcing that safety is a priority… to everyone.

6. Promote Your Investments In Safety
The last thing you want, particularly after an accident, is for employees to think you’re only doing the minimum when it comes workplace safety. How can they feel good about your significant investment in job safety programs, procedure updates, safety training, PPE, and safety systems if they don’t know about it?

But rather than just tooting your own horn, see if executives can assist. If they’re responsible for signing off on your safety recommendations, they may also be inclined to highlight how that investment benefits all employees. For example, an investment in better lighting near a loading dock may lead to faster (and safer) loading and unloading. That transfers into company-wide savings, and perhaps a happier, more efficient dispatch team. The point is that an investment in safety affects more people than you think. So an announcement about that investment should leverage executive leadership. You just have to ask. Grab a quote from them and make sure it’s clear exactly what the safety investment is and how it can help make a big difference.

7. Health and Wellness
It’s tempting to place what some consider to be lighter health and wellness issues outside of a typical job safety program. After all, flu shot reminders and messages about proper hand washing don’t seem all that crucial when compared to warnings about slips, trips, and falls. And in some cases, health and wellness may be addressed by your Human Resources department.  But when you consider that everyone in your company can potentially contribute to the spread of flu, and that flu-like symptoms can reduce attentiveness and response time, you can see why everyone should be a part of these awareness campaigns. It’s one more opportunity to show that your organization cares for its employees.

8. Employee Recognition
It’s no secret that you should be recognizing your safety stars on a regular basis. Make sure their names and the relevant job safety programs are seen by everyone. But don’t forget one very important person—you, the safety professional. That’s right, it’s important that everyone knows who you are, what you do on a regular basis to keep everyone safe, and how anyone in the organization can contact you about a safety issue.

As you can see from this list of workplace safety topics, communication with all employees (not just the folks who wear PPE) is a big part of improving your overall culture of safety. Implement even just a few of these topics, and you’ll ensure that this communication is happening in a way that everyone can both understand and appreciate.

Sean Donnelly
November 18, 2016

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