Struggling to get employees to buy into safety efforts, let alone be excited about safety? It can be difficult to make safety fun but it is not impossible. This post dives into five ideas for how to make safety more fun for employees.
Getting Employees Engaged and Involved in the Safety Program
For employees to care about safety, they need to be engaged and involved in your company’s safety efforts. The programs and processes your company implements should involve and reward as many employees whenever possible.
The five ideas in this post may be things your company already does but each idea includes information on how to ensure your employees are involved in them. Continuous safety improvement requires the efforts of all employees.
If the safety team or specific managers are the only individuals leading the efforts without much involvement of others, the chances of making sustained long-term progress in the safety program will be limited.
1. Start a Safety Committee
If you want employees to care about safety, involve them in the safety program. A great way to provide employees a voice and stake in the safety program is to invite employees to be a part of a safety committee.
A traditional safety committee involves various levels of employees who meet on a monthly or quarterly basis. Normally, the total number of employees involved in the committee is anywhere from five to twenty individuals.
The look and feel of a formal safety committee program can vary greatly between organizations. There are several states that actually require a safety committee to be formed. This requirement can depend on the size of the operation, if the operation is self-insured, and the industry that the operation is in. Check out this OSHA document for more details on safety committees and state-specific requirements.
While the number of employees who can participate in a formal committee is limited, there are creative ways to involve more employees in the safety committee program.
Two examples are providing a safety suggestion box in the workplace and to have sub-committees that meet more frequently than the formal safety committee. A safety suggestion box allows all employees a way to anonymously submit safety feedback, which then can be reviewed during safety committee meetings.
Having informal subcommittees for specific workgroups within an organization or at smaller company locations is a great way to gather feedback and ideas which then be passed along to the formal safety committee.
2. Hold Safety Campaigns
Monthly safety campaigns are great for involving everyone in the safety program while having many options to make it fun and rewarding. There are a variety of ways for what a safety campaign can look like.
One example of what a safety campaign can be implemented would be holding a monthly safety campaign around a specific topic, such as fall prevention. Each week, a new activity or challenge could be held that relates to fall prevention to get employee involvement. Safety messaging and communication should be tailored to the specific topic being focused on.
Employers can hold meetings on specific sub-topics around fall prevention each week then issue a challenge for the field workers, such as a hazard hunt around that specific topic. Employees can be rewarded or recognized for taking part in the process or providing valuable feedback.
3. Hold Safety Contests
Safety contests can look like safety campaigns, or be a part of a larger safety campaign. These contests can have a specific topic in mind or just be geared towards general safety in the workplace.
Hazard hunts are one example of a possible safety contest that could be implemented. A hazard hunt entails having employees submit hazards they identify in the workplace or during work tasks. The hazards can be verbally turned into a supervisor or safety manager. A form or card can also be produced to be put out in the field so that employees can write the hazards down and turned in.
Another example of a safety contest is to ask employees to submit ideas for how to improve safety in their work areas or for work tasks that they complete. The employees who complete the work each day are the experts at what they do. A contest is a great way to encourage employees to get excited about sharing ideas that could lead to reducing the risk of injuries or accidents to occur.
Tailor the safety contest around the pain points you are having in your safety program. For example, if getting engagement is a problem, have a contest to submit ideas on how to get employees more involved in the safety program.
4. Make Safety Meetings and Training Interesting
There is a lot of time spent in safety meetings and safety training sessions. These meetings can be viewed as negative by the employees if they are dry or boring. There are many things a presenter can do to help ensure this is not the case.
Below are some general ideas to make your next safety training session or toolbox talk more engaging:
- Have ownership or high-level managers take part in the meeting. This practice shows that there is buy-in for the safety efforts and the audience is more likely to be engaged if they see key stakeholders taking part in the meeting.
- Choose interesting topics. If your company holds a lot of toolbox talks or safety meetings, do not be afraid to stray away from the run-of-the-mill safety topics. Using behavioral-related safety topics is a great way to change up your safety meetings.
- Change the medium you use during meetings. It is easy to be bored if the same person is reading from a sheet day after day during a tailgate meeting. Use photos, videos, presentations, etc. to reinforce and change up your safety message.
- Use stories and humor. Your audience wants to hear a message that applies to them and for the message to be engaging. Telling stories that relate to your safety message or using humor is a great way to keep the audience’s attention.
- Ask for feedback or stories from the employees. Allow the audience to engage during these meetings. Asking employees to share a story or provide feedback about the topic being discussed can help break up the monotony of safety training.
5. Reward Employees to Take Part in the Safety Program
Safety should not feel like a punishment. Sometimes it can feel like a punishment, and it may be necessary. Overall, safety efforts should feel like a positive item in the workplace.
Safety incentive programs are a great way to jump-start as well as sustain employee involvement in a safety program. The basic premise of a safety incentive program is to consistently reward employees for contributing to the safety program, reaching safety goals, or being involved in safety efforts.
These programs should not focus on rewarding end results such as not having injuries or accidents. These end result types of goals are vague, reactive, and may be out of reach. Instead, reward proactive behaviors that will lead to a safer workplace, thus leading to fewer injuries and accidents over time.
A safety incentive program can reward employees at any frequency and for a myriad of proactive behaviors or actions. Possible items to reward could include turning in hazards, completing safety training, wearing personal protective equipment, completing inspections, etc.
As stated above in the safety contest section of this post, tailor the incentive program to target pain points your organization is facing. As progress is made in the initial pain points, shift the focus on other problem areas.
There are many things an employer can do to make safety more interesting and fun. The ideas provided in this post help to get the employees more engaged in a safety program. The more the employees are involved in the safety program and rewarded for their efforts the more likely they will care about making a difference in helping to ensure their workplace is a safe one.
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