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Talking in Circles: Is Your Company Sending Mixed Safety Messages?

The warning sign is posted on the cyclone fence bordering the construction site.

Signs, pamphlets, talks, and meetings all tell a story about safety. But it’s up to an organization to determine whether that story is fact or fiction.

Employers run into issues when there is a clear disconnect between the company’s safety message and their safety reality. And employees are the first to take notice when an organization’s actions and culture deviate from their missions, announcements, and communications. Because frontline employees are also the most vulnerable when safety standards are not being followed as outlined. And organizations with issues may not realize they need to change or address their safety habits until a major incident happens.

So how can employers align what they say about safety with how they act to retain employees, reduce accidents and injuries, and see the full benefits from a culture of safety?

What is Being Said vs What is Being Done

Effective safety messaging begins when an organization states that safety is important. The second step is how the organization follows through on that message.

Organizations that set clear safety goals, communicate the importance of safety to their employees, and act on what they say reap the benefits of a safety culture. They find their employees more engaged while lowering injuries and accidents from safety issues. It’s necessary to build out each incremental point in-between to fully realize an organization’s safety action plan. But the main pillars are straightforward: Communication and action.

Employers going through the motions hanging signs and handing out materials without following through to ensure actual safety protocols are maintained are doing a disservice to themselves and their employees. A sign that says that proper lockout procedures should be followed is worthless if there is no accountability that the procedures are actually being followed. Worse still is if an organization cannot say whether the procedures are being followed or not.

Safety is a not a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a mindset and standard that needs to be regularly reinforced, evaluated, and built upon to continuously improve.

safety leadership workshops

From the Top Down

Management sets the tone for how the rest of an organization will act. Which is why management needs to take safety seriously.

Organizational leaders should distribute safety materials and should also be auditing that procedures and standards are implemented. This communicates to the rest of the team that safety is treated as importantly as the signs, emails, and brochures around them say it is. And leaders that can call-out progress and improvements in safety with concrete examples drive employees to adhere to safe work habits for their own chance to be recognized and acknowledged.

Call and Response

The best communicators are also good listeners. Which is why part of sending an effective safety message is also listening to employees. Because these are the people in an organization that actually put safety theories into practice. They will be the ones to say which processes are effective, which processes need work, and how workstreams can improve overall.

Leaders should constantly look to improve their safety standards as this creates more efficient teams and workflows and reduces risks and hazards. Actively sourcing feedback from employees and implementing changes based on the most common issues makes improvements easier to find and address. Because organizations that make safety a conversation rather than a lecture have workers that feel more respected and that are more willing to go out of their way to ensure safety is the top priority.

But leaders also need to familiarize their employees with the language of safety. Enrolling employees in safety workshops provides common safety foundations and leadership skills to boost employee confidence when bringing attention to potential hazards. It also shows employees that leadership cares enough about them to provide them with additional knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves while growing their professional talents.

Optimum Safety Management can further help employers better engage with their employees by providing a thorough snapshot of an organization’s safety needs with the P3 Safety Culture Analysis™. Optimum utilizes 30 unique KPIs  to presents a fundamental view of the business’s current safety landscape to work with organizational leaders to build a specific action plan that establishes and strengthens an internal safety culture. This helps an organization craft safety messaging around their holistic safety action plan and the follow-up steps to ensure their goals are met.

Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.

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