The Importance of Safety
Workplace safety is important because it increases the efficiency of ongoing operations, manages risk, optimises control systems, streamlines processes, optimises the employer brand, creates trust and, ultimately, prevents death and injuries.
A recent SmartMarket Report in fact states that a better safety culture decreases reportable injuries by 10%, increases the ability to contract new work by 10% and increases the ability to retain staff by 18%.
A workplace that has a well planed out safety program is, hence, not only beneficial to the company, but also to their employers and the experience in the workplace.
Creating a Safety Culture
As published by the Health and Safety commission a safety culture is “the product of people's values and beliefs, their behavior and their commitment to your [the company's] health and safety programs”.
But how does this concept show itself in our daily working lives? Safety culture is the group's effort of an organisation to keep and maintain safety and prevent injuries on a day to day basis. This includes the measures taken, the involvement of your employees, the communication concerning safety and the degree of importance that it holds within the organisation.
It shows itself in the trust people bring towards each other, as well as the processes that follow incidents, the tools provided and even how crisis management is handled.
The responsibility to uphold and drive this culture has become an integral part of management functions but has to also be cultivated by every single employee. While the C-level is responsible for setting a framework and the tools needed the employees are responsible for implementing the processes and using the measures available. Creating a strong safety culture is, therefore, an ongoing process that involves everybody.
OSHA, the safety and health administration of the US department of labor has 8 tips for companies to get started on an efficient safety culture:
- Define safety responsibilities: Do this for each level within your organization. This should include policies, goals and plans for the safety culture.
- Share your safety vision: Everyone should be in the same boat when establishing goals and objectives for their safety culture.
- Enforce accountability: Create a process that holds everyone accountable for being visibly involved, especially managers and supervisors. They are the leaders that promote positive change.
- Provide multiple options: Provide different options for employees to bring their concerns or issues forward. There should be a chain of commands to make sure supervisors are held accountable for being responsive.
- Report, report, report: Educate employees on the importance of reporting injuries, first aids and near misses. Prepare for an increase in incidents if currently there is under-reporting. It will level out eventually.
- Rebuild the investigation system: Evaluating the incident investigation system is critical to make sure investigations are conducted in an effective manner. This should help you get to the main cause of accidents and incidents.
- Build trust: When things start to change in the workplace, it is important to keep the boat from rocking. Building trust will help everyone work together to see improvements.
- Celebrate success: Make your efforts public to keep everyone motivated and updated throughout the process.
10 Ways to Boost Your Safety Culture with an Employee App
With a low use of safety culture only 60% of workers are willing to report unsafe conditions in the workplace, compared to 95% with a high use of safety culture.
Successful change needs regular, facility-wide communication on health and safety topics. An internal safety communication process increases awareness of such topics and transfers knowledge to empower your people to be successful.
An employee app is an effective way to support a broad range of safety related activities and can serve as the communication backbone of your safety culture program. Here are the top 10 safety related use cases of an employee app:
#1 Share the company’s safety vision and show that the issue is important to the management
When it comes to safety culture everyone should act in concert concerning goals and objectives. This means that on the one hand leaders should communicate their commitment to safety through their actions and on the other hand that every single employee should be empowered to take part in the safety culture. It’s especially engaging to give out prices for strong safety initiatives.
Format: interviews – written or video, pictures or video of safety related actions like site visits, review meetings or external audits.
#2 Make key contacts easy to find
Your safety process should be split up in clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Assign these tasks and make it easy for everybody to find the right contact person in emergencies and in case of safety incidents.
#3 Share site- or team-specific safety messages
Local safety vision, local key policies, goals and measures – personalize content to limit the information employees receive and show them what is currently relevant for them. An advanced employee app such as Staffbase will allow you to define user groups and targeted content.
#4 Share awareness trainings
Make time for what matters – all employees throughout the organization should be working on creating and spreading knowledge on health and safety topics. Use an employee app to share 1-5 minute long video-based trainings or visual tutorials to turn awareness about safety into a short weekly or even daily habit.
#5 Encourage the reporting of safety issues by telling stories
Would your employees report mistakes to you or stay quiet about them? Are they scared of being punished for mistakes? Uses stories of other employees from all levels of the organization to show how they came forward and reported safety concerns. Employees should never be scared to report issues or mistakes but should instead be rewarded for their truthfulness and for helping to ensure security. Making this clear is important for the general company culture, too!
#6 Measure performance and continually communicate results
Publicizing results is very important for sustaining efforts and for keeping everyone motivated. Everyone needs to be updated throughout the process. Share the sites safety KPI’s, report incidents and show lessons learnt.
#7 Report opportunities for improvement
Successful organizations know about issues before they cause injuries or fuel costs. This means that you don’t only take measures after incidents have occurred but also to take preventive measures in order to keep future mistakes from happening. Give your employees an easy way to report potential safety issues – including pictures that can be taken directly with a smartphone camera.
#8 Gamification- make safety fun
Use quizzes like the safety question of the day to remind employees of the topic and keep them engaged. A simple question is a great way to address problems and attract interest. Celebrate winners and offer cool awards.
#9 Report incidents
Educate employees on the importance of reporting injuries, first aids and near misses. Transparency and Integrity are extremely important for a flourishing safety culture. As before – make the process of reporting safety incidents easy and effective with the employee app.
#10 Celebrate Successes
Make your efforts public to keep everyone motivated and updated throughout the process. Positive safety behaviors should be awarded and these awards should motivate continuous health and safety performance. An employee app is a great way to get the word out.
If you would like more information on how to digitalize your employee communication read more here:
- An Internal Communications App- All You Need to Get Started
- 7 Reasons Why Internal Communication Is More Important Than Ever in 2017
- 5 Ways to Be a Better Employer for Millennials and Generation Z