The best and most effective safety strategies are those that include all stakeholders (including employees) and that means including them in all aspects of the strategy from inception to implementation.
Engaging with the workforce on health and safety-related issues irrespective of their job on site is fundamental to the success of the safety strategy. If employers make the mistake of implementing a safety strategy and not involving workers, training them appropriately and supervising them to an extent to ensure that the strategy is being implemented, it is likely the worksite will not enjoy a good safety record at all. These sites will likely be plagued by incidents and injuries – not good for workers, not good for your company’s reputation and not good for productivity.
Not only does engaging workers in the safety process enhance safety but it also promotes a sense of comradery amongst workers which is good for productivity. Workers who aren’t consulted about safety and aren’t informed of safety measures are going to place themselves at risk and inadvertently place their co-workers at risk as well.
An article written by BJ Borbidge on the website www.ishn.com explained and I agree:
If employees believe they are being genuinely listened to, respect and trust can be generated. By not listening to the ones who have to get the work done, managers and supervisors discourage ingenuity, motivation to take responsibility and active participation in solving problems. Employees feel better about the job they do if value is placed on what they have to say.
Engage employees in decision-making. To achieve support from employees regarding decisions or changes impacting their work, they must be actively engaged in the process. No one knows better than the front-line employees what works best and what doesn’t work.
It is also important that employers share information with workers. As the writer goes on to explain, good leaders encourage strong communication systems between all employees at all levels and in all directions. The sharing of information with employees can foster reciprocal sharing. Participative communication draws the line between mere management and good leadership. People feel connected when they are in the communication loop and feel a part of the workforce, they tend to work safer and harder when they are happy.
Engaging workers involves in a large part communicating regularly and effectively with them. It is also important to remember that communication is a two way process and involves more than merely dictating to staff about safety. Employers also need to listen to what workers have to say about safety because they can shed light on safety issues they may have experienced that employers may not even be aware of.
I have often said that the manner in which employers communicate with staff is just as important as how often they communicate and about what. For example when communicating with an injured worker it is important to maintain communication with them throughout their time off work and to do so sympathetically. Employers need to communicate with workers in a manner that is non-threatening and supportive in these circumstances, this will not only ensure workers will return to work sooner but will make them more willing to support safety strategies implemented by the employer on site in the future.