Improving job-site safety is good for everyone. Workers are more confident and less likely to get hurt. Companies save money. And your brand reputation can eventually improve.
But what are the best tactics for improving job-site safety? And how can you get started?
The Proactive Mindset
First, it’s important to adopt a proactive and preventative mindset. Ideally, you’ll improve job-site safety long before anyone suffers a significant injury – rather than quickly making changes only after a significant injury occurs.
Take, for instance, the difference between “leading indicators” and “lagging indicators.” According to OSHA, leading indicators are pieces of information that can help you evaluate the health and safety of a given environment before an incident happens. Lagging indicators, in contrast, are pieces of information that can help you evaluate the health and safety of a given environment after an incident happens.
Leading indicators could be things like an apparent lack of safety equipment, worn or malfunctioning equipment, or lack of railing on an elevated platform. These are all pieces of information you can observe and identify as potential safety risks long before anyone suffers from an accident. Lagging indicators, however, only make themselves available once the damage is done.
If and when incidents do occur, it’s vital to analyze them so you can figure out what went wrong, apply corrective actions, and ultimately make your workplace safer. But it’s wrong to rely exclusively on this type of analysis. If you do, it’s only a matter of time before workers on your job-site suffer injuries – or worse.
Instead, you need to be proactive and try to prevent these accidents before they occur.
Creating the Culture
Your organizational culture is a complex set of features that define how your company operates. With a better, more safety focused culture in place, people will naturally be more likely to comply with your health and safety procedures.
- The “safety first” mindset in core values. You can start by enshrining the prioritization of safety in the core values of your organization. Make it clear that your company cares deeply about the health and safety of its employees. Publicize these core values and do your best to live up to them so more employees are likely to adhere to them.
- Making smart hires. A company’s culture only begins to truly manifest when people within the organization showcase it. Your company doesn’t have a safety culture unless all your employees are actively prioritizing safety. One of the best ways to ensure more people in your organization care deeply about the health and safety of themselves and the people around them is to practice smart hiring; screen your candidates carefully and only hire people who are going to take safety seriously.
- Leading by example. People tend to mimic and follow their leaders closely, so it’s important to put the best possible leaders in place. The managers, supervisors, and other leadership in your organization all need to take safety very seriously so that your employees are likely to follow them with a similar mentality.
- Enforcing the rules. It’s not enough to have safety rules in place; you have to be willing to enforce those rules. That means rewarding people for following the rules consistently and taking safety seriously, while disciplining and correcting people for breaking the rules or disregarding them.
- Providing mutual accountability. Create a culture where people feel comfortable holding each other accountable. Everyone needs to feel empowered and autonomous in identifying potential safety hazards and correcting them.
Training and Educating
Your organization and job-sites will become safer if you provide more thorough training and education to all your employees and contractors. In many cases, people practice their work unsafely only because nobody taught them the safer, less risky way. If your entire team understands everything necessary to maximize safety throughout the day, there’s no excuse for a lapse in health or safety standards. It’s also important to train and educate your team members on how to respond to a job-site injury, should one occur.
Consistency in Implementation
Workplace consistency is always valuable, but it’s especially important in the world of job-site safety. You need to make sure that all your leaders are following the same protocols, that all your procedures are followed religiously, and that all of your rules are followed in equal measure. If you only discipline employees for disregarding safety rules some of the time, you’re going to set a standard that the safety rules are optional.
Improving job-site safety isn’t nearly as expensive, time-consuming, or complicated as you might think. But it pays to take this matter seriously. After working with the right partners, you can create a much safer, more consistently productive environment for your job-sites – and rest assured that any safety incidents will quickly be under control.