Safety education helps create a culture of safety within an organization where employees identify and correct risks and hazards before they can cause an injury or worse. Yet many employers wait for traumatic incidents to inform their training needs and reveal safety gaps that need to be addressed.
This method for training is far from the most effective way to reduce injuries and achieve safety goals in the workplace. Waiting to use injuries and property damage as guidelines for training is both callous and costly for employers. It also undermines the central goal of the safety culture organizations are trying to build. This leads employees out of fear rather than out of an inherent interest in promoting safe work habits.
Employers that approach safety training as a proactive measure to address concerns and hazards find their workplaces have fewer safety incidents and greater employee buy-in to safe working practices and initiatives. But how can organizations build an effective proactive safety training program?
Start with Supervisors
An organization’s supervisors have the most direct knowledge of what is happening at the ground level of an organization. They know their teams and have detailed access to data about the timelines for projects, how tasks are completed, and where concerns and risks are present. It’s this unique knowledge and trust that makes supervisors the ideal link to pass safety insights between upper management and employees.
Supervisors know which safety areas require immediate updates and further training to reduce risks, hazards, and injuries. Supervisors will be the first to hear about new safety issues and concerns as they arise. They are also the first people employees look to for guidance on culture. Which means employees with supervisors that take safety seriously are themselves more likely to take safety seriously.
Employers can build off the relationship and influence their supervisors have with employees to ensure that safety training initiatives are adopted and adhered to. Employers can then go further to utilize supervisors’ specific insights to pinpoint and refine safety training to address more precise concerns such as task-specific hazard identification and equipment training. But employers need to provide the right framework for supervisors to become optimal safety leaders if organizations want to effect a real cultural change.
Provide the Right Tools
Supervisors need to receive to reach their full leadership potential and have a real opportunity to do their best by their team. Employers that invest in leadership education up front provide their supervisors with the expertise and knowledge to act as influential leaders, communicate efficiently, identify risks and hazards, and establish the safety goals that reinforce an organization’s culture of safety.
Supervisors become more effective and innovative as leaders when they feel supported by their employer and know that the information, data, and safety concerns they present bring about serious action from an organization’s stake holders. And the same is true of other employees. Investing in additional education and workshops for employees shows an organization’s dedication to the entire team and kick-starts the individual drive in employees to take safety seriously. These forces then work together to proactively address safety gaps and concerns, reduce injuries, and drive improvements in workflow efficiency.
Safety education is best approached with the intent of cementing a strong safety culture rather than from a reaction to an incident. And a strong safety culture continually shapes effective policies and procedures that are foundational for keeping injury and incident numbers low in the workplace. Creating and supporting a culture of safety through proactive safety training will encourage safer, happier, more engaged employees that are more dedicated to their employer. It will also establish organizations as preferred employers amongst their peers. Embrace a culture of safety to promote a sustainable safety program and become an industry leader in safety.
Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.
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