When we talk about who is responsible for safety every employee’s response should be, “I am”. Unfortunately for too many companies the response, “I am” is seldom heard. Instead many employees wrongly assume that their safety department is responsible for their safety. So how do we change this response? How do we lead the effort to ensure all employees take their safety seriously and speak out when they observe hazards while completing their work? How do we educate employees so they understand that their silence when they observe an at-risk behavior or other hazards in the field is their consent to increase the likelihood that they or their co-workers will be injured on the job?
The simple truth of the matter is there is not a quick fix to accomplish this goal. There is no simple checklist that we can run through and in a month’s time change our employee’s attitude towards safety. Nor is there a safety program we can buy off the shelf and implement that will accomplish this for us. In order to accomplish this goal, companies must understand that creating a safety culture where employees take responsibility for their and their co-workers safety will take a large amount of effort, time and patience. Fortunately, we can look at companies that have successful safety programs and what framework they utilized.
It is not a secret that quality safety programs are not only fully supported by their executive management teams, but demonstrated by them as well. Executive buy-in is the first step towards a successful safety program. It is one of the notable areas that all successful safety programs share. Once the executive management team has accepted and implemented the program, the next step is the get buy in from the workforce.
In every workforce (regardless of industry) there’s a wealth of knowledge. When we listen to employees and allow them to help shape our safety program we are tapping into that wealth of knowledge. This helps ensure we have safety policies that will work, but also helps demonstrate to the workforce that they matter, and that safety is part of their job. When employees believe their foreman, supervisors, managers and executive team truly care about them as individuals they will care about what management has to say about safety and become active participants in the safety program.
At Elite Contracting Group we have developed our safety program utilizing the knowledge from other companies that have established successful safety programs. Our executive team understands the importance of safety and fully supports the program. This is backed up by the investments we continually make in training our employees to ensure our employees have the know how to complete all tasks in a safe manner. We believe that the most important part of our safety program is our commitment to engage our employees on safety issues and build relationships where all employees feel they are part of our team and that we care about them on a personal level.
These efforts have proven to be successful. We continue to lower our experience modifier rate (EMR), worker’s compensation claims and OSHA recordable rate. It has led to a safety culture where all employees at Elite understand they have a duty to act when they see an unsafe condition and speak up. If an employee feel there is a safer way to complete a certain task, they speak up. Our workforce is empowered to take their own and their co-workers safety personally. This is what makes our safety program successful.