If you follow OSHA on social media, then you may have recently noticed their Safety Tip for the Day “Support worker input to develop training on specific workplace hazards.”
While most of OSHA’s safety tips are useful and provide a nice refresher when thinking about company safety policies and procedures, this particular tip stood out to me for a few reasons… Often times when a company is putting together its regulations and policies, employees (with the exception of Human Resources) are rarely surveyed for their input. Sure, certain departments may be involved with new policies that relate to their specific department or area of expertise, but when it comes to safety, crews are not always as involved as they should be in identifying safety training needs and requirements.
So, take a moment to ask yourself this important question: “What does my company do to empower crew members to provide input and feedback regarding safety?” If you really think about it, there is no better source for information about your job sites than your crew members. They are not only responsible for their own safety on the job by following company policy and OSHA standards, but they are responsible for each other. And while you may have a few team players who are willing to speak up about an employee who is breaking the rules, how many will speak up about weaknesses they find in your company’s safety plan? Chance are that very few crew members will argue with a company about the rules and regulation that are in place, even if they notice weaknesses, deficiencies or policies that are outdated or need improvement.
This is where proper safety training and communication come into play. Safety training programs don’t just happen – They need to be carefully developed in conjunction with and for your crews. While there are obvious standards that will always be a part of your safety program, it is important to take the time to evaluate (and revaluate) your training, policies and procedures to ensure that you are creating the safest possible workplace for your team and clients.
Safe jobs and workplaces exist because employers make a conscious decision to make protecting workers a priority in the workplace. According to OSHA, when this effort includes participation from workers, workplace injury and illness prevention programs are improved because workers can identify missing safety procedures, make recommendations for changes and help ensure a safe workplace. When workers have a voice in the workplace and feel safe to provide input about how training is developed, the safety training programs are more accurately focused on specific workplace hazards.
Creating a safe team means creating a culture of safety. To put it simply, employees must feel safe to speak up about safety (and other areas of your business). There must be opportunities presented where employees are not only encouraged but expected to provide feedback without fear of judgment or losing their position within the company. Some of the ways that a company can gain solid feedback from their employees include:
- Surveys – Create an online and anonymous survey to all employees.
- Safety Meetings – Add a “feedback forum” to the agenda of every safety meeting.
- Performance Reviews – When conducting performance reviews, engage in transparent and open conversation about what employees think can be improved upon in your safety plan.
- Comment Box – If you don’t already have one, place a suggestion box that can be easily accessed by crew members, allowing them to provide honest and anonymous feedback.
- Bring in a Specialist – By having a third-party specialist such as Brauner Safety Services conduct a review, employees often feel supported to speak up and provide input knowing that they are working with an objective party who is in place specifically to review and improve the safety program.
By including your crews and team members in the safety training and development process, you can create a culture of safety and inclusivity that empowers employees to take ownership of their role in the company, and as leaders on the job.
With more than 40 years of experience, Jim Brauner (Brauner Safety Services) is a trusted leader in job site safety training and CERTA. At Brauner Safety Services, we take pride in driving OSHA and CERTA training standards forward, focusing on efficiency, quality and safety. Jim Brauner offers custom and personalized safety education programs and CERTA training throughout the contiguous United States. To book your safety consultation or training, contact Jim Brauner today.