Expert advice from Justin O'Sullivan, founder of SEMA Racking Inspections
Health and safety isn't the most exciting buzzword in any staffroom, but getting your employees motivated and passionate about safety could not be more important.
Despite popular opinion, health and safety isn't just about numbers, regulations, and protocols. At its heart, safety is about people. So here are a few ways to get your staff motivated about safety.
A Safety Expert is More Than a Rule Maker
For a safety expert to simply create a list of rules is not enough. A safety expert needs to inspire confidence and trust in their fellow employees.
It might be the case that your place of work has a specialised safety expert, or that this is a role taken on by the management. Whatever the situation, a safety expert needs to be someone that's likeable. This may seem like a superficial matter, but it's not. If a safety expert simply drills their staff on rules and regulations in an aggressive or boring way, then staff are either not going to understand or aren't going to care. In many cases, one leads to the other. A member of staff who might otherwise take a great interest in safety might start to lose their way if safety instructions aren't understood.
To avoid all this, safety experts need to be confident and self-assured people. A safety expert can’t express uncertainty in their directions, and they need to be able to explain their reasoning.
Safety expertise is a form of management that requires being firm and fair. You can't compromise on safety by letting staff "do things their own way". Rather, a safety expert needs to be an approachable presence who can calmly but assertively explain why a protocol has been put in place, and why staff need to follow it. There are many ways that great leaders get people to have confidence in them, and there is no reason why a safety expert should be exempt from following good leadership practice.
Health and Safety Targets?
A sales target is a well-known practice where staff who sell the amount they are expected to receive rewards, but a safety targets are less popular. The reason for this is that high selling workplaces are usually highly celebrated. By contrast, a workplace is simply expected to be safe and it is only when something is unsafe that people start to worry. There are, of course, different levels of safety. One person might see a ladder and think that its slight wobble is not too much of a problem. However, a safer person will recognise the dangers of a wobbly ladder, no matter how slight.
Safety targets are perhaps not the best of ideas because they encourage staff to become competitive with safety, when that is not the point. Safety rewards, on the other hand, are an excellent way of encouraging staff to be safe. The “Safest Employee of the Month” award might go to someone who has helped others to better understand safety procedure, who has been rigid in following safety procedure, or who has helped to devise new safety procedure.
Safety Training Courses and Safety Talks
When people think of a sales motivation, they think of inspirational quotes or talks delivered by inspirational people, and safety talks and training courses can be just as inspirational. Any topic is an interesting one if the speaker is sincerely passionate about it. And safety is a subject which many people are genuinely enthusiastic about. Enthusiasm can be very contagious, and so the excitement and passion that a speaker has can quickly spread to your staff.
Safety protocols and regulations are of the utmost importance in any workplace. The first step in making sure that those regulations are followed is making your staff enthusiastic about safety in general. Safety is a work philosophy like any other. It may rely heavily on rules, but that doesn't mean the people involved in its upkeep need be any less passionate or motivational.