Happy New Year! As we welcome the new year, Many of us have some sore of a New Years Resolution. It may be something small or it could be life changing but they all have something in common, commitment. I challenge you all to make a new commitment for safety by starting this New Years Resolution-
How often have you heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”? It is very overused and misunderstood. Yes, a leader must be true with what they say. If a leader walks into a work area or on to a job site and fails to use hearing protection, safety glasses or wear a hard hat, if appropriate, they send a very strong message. When leaders go up or down the stairs and fail to use the handrail they send a message.
The part people forget is that a major portion of any leadership job is to communicate with others. Supervisors must follow-up on production items. They must make sure quality standards are met and they must also ensure safety standards are followed. Its part of being a leader!
One of the most effective forms of communication and demonstration of safety commitment is by example. Other actions that “speak loudly” of its commitment to safety and health include:
- Reward safe behavior. This doesn’t have to include money. A pat on the back goes a long way. When you see someone doing a good safety practice, let them know when they do it right and do it in public if possible.
- Don’t forget to show your gratitude for the efforts employees, supervisors, and managers are making to create a safer workplace.
- Distributing booklets on safe work practices and enclosing safety reminders in pay envelopes or just send them out to the company email addresses.
- Maintaining close contact with workers off the job because of illness or injury—expressing concern and looking forward to and facilitating their return to work.
- Publishing information in the company newsletter or on an internet about accidents and how they might have been prevented, about safe behaviors, and about workers with excellent safety records
Training is another vital component of communicating safety messages and commitment. For optimum effectiveness, trainers must make sure the message is received and understood as well as delivered. This may mean quick quizzes on material covered and handouts that can provided ongoing reminders. It may also mean providing information—both in training sessions and in posting throughout the facility—in languages other than English.
In any organization, leadership is responsible to set the standards and values of that organization. Most organizations hold safety as a corporate value. One challenge I have observed over the years is leaders who are truly committed to safety and have employees who do not know that safety is one of the company core values.
How is this possible and where is the disconnect?
How often do your leaders talk and ask about safety?
Think about your corporate or local site leadership. How often do they talk about safety?
Not just as the opening safety moment before every meeting but in the stories they tell and the items for which they hold people accountable. If employees only hear a supervisor talk about production or quality and not safety… they get it, safety is low on the totem pole. People, your employees, are very smart. They pick up on the emphasis leadership puts on values and they act accordingly.
Encourage your leaders to tell of safety stories from their own life. You can do this by interviewing them and asking them questions.
I often ask leaders the question, “When did you become excited about safety?” You could ask them if anything has happened in their life recently reminding them of the importance of safety. When they tell you something, encourage them to share it with the employees at your next meeting.
Here are some more ways that leaders can get involved-
- Sharing personal safety knowledge, experience, and stories with co-workers
- Participating in discussions in safety meetings and training sessions
- Volunteering to conduct safety demonstrations
- Membership on a safety committee or an inspection or accident investigation team
Enjoy your New Years Safety Resolution and Keep Everyone Safe!