Building a safety culture is easy: throw a few witty “Safety First” posters on the wall, put up your “___ days since our last safety incident” chalkboard, and have a packet of your safety policies for your new hires to read and sign, and you’re good to go. Right?
If only it were that simple.
A culture of safety is an essential part of your business, and it’s not something that comes in a box. It’s something that starts at the very top, is present at every level of the organization, and is constantly refreshed, practiced, and improved. Safety in the workplace is essential for keeping your employees healthy and happy, of course, but what companies with an established culture of safety can tell you is that a safe environment is a critical tool for recruiting talent to come work for you.
Provide Reminders Everywhere
Keeping safety at the forefront of your employees’ minds by using monthly safety meetings/training sessions, emails, videos, and, yes, posters! Make sure that your content is presented in a way that encourages buy-in: keep it relevant to the job your employees are doing instead of having a cartoon lizard wearing protective glasses and an inspirational quote underneath, for example.
Give your employees the ever-important WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) by telling them that they are protecting their lives, limbs, and livelihoods (and that of their families) instead of simply saying “we have to comply with these OSHA rules or else we get fined.” Make sure that your training and refresher materials aren’t condescending or overly negative (NO this, NO that, NO the other) and instead show them what they need to do an the benefits to both them individually and the company as a whole.
Make It Easy and Memorable
If your facility is set up to give employees all the necessary equipment, lighting, tools, etc. right at their fingertips, using and complying with the rules will become automatic. Put safety vests, hard hats, and glasses right at the entrance of your plant or parking lot.
Safety training is not a one-and-done process; it demands repetition over time to give your employees reminders. As policies, workplace rules, and your facility itself changes, you cannot rely on that initial onboarding safety packet to remain the end-all-be-all training.
Making your monthly safety meetings engaging, entertaining, and accessible makes the information stick better than a boring powerpoint presentation. Consider interactive demonstrations, tours, and if needed, outside experts. You can also make training accessible to remote employees (other offices/branches, truck drivers, contractors, etc.) by recording your presentations on video and making them available online.
Communicate Your Stance
Letting your employees know what your company’s safety policies are from their first day on the job is essential, and frankly, letting your prospective employees see that you are committed to safety is a powerful recruiting tool. If an applicant knows going in that he or she will be protected and all safety gear and training is provided, they will see that you care about your employees more than just your bottom line.
It may seem like a small thing, but in a situation like we have post-COVID where employees are competing for talent, this sort of communication can give you the edge in attracting, recruiting, and retaining top candidates.
Safety cultures aren’t a product you can buy and implement quickly with a magical result. It takes work and time, but when your employees are constantly safe, their sense of security will help your productivity, company image, and help you to recruit and retain quality staff members.