Part of every supervisor’s responsibility is to support and promote a safe workplace. While various methods can lead to a safe working environment, most of them will revolve around encouraging open communication and giving workers clear guidelines on the type of behavior that will promote safety, while quickly attending to any acts that undermine safety.
Here are a few safety tips every boss should keep in mind.
Walk the Walk
Supervisors are the company’s leaders in all aspects of the business. Leadership in safety means showing subordinates an excellent example. Advocating safety doesn’t do much good if those at the top aren’t applying it themselves. While managers and supervisors should be doing their utmost to set positive examples in all areas, it is essential they adhere to the same safety policies expected of their workers.
Make the Message Stick
Those managers who are conducting safety training must ensure that the message – “Safety is our company’s priority!”- is getting through to their workers.
Open the Lines of Communication
Listening to workers about their safety concerns and acting on them shows you are committed to their safety. It’s also an excellent way to motivate them.
A safe workplace is not “once and done.” Supervisors and employees should always be monitoring the work environment for unsafe conditions. Leaders should be providing regular feedback, observing workers, and encouraging them to stay safe by informing them about all required safety procedures.
Keep Your Employees Engaged
While training is crucial, employees who are closely connected with their work and to their employer will be more motivated to take safety seriously. Here are some suggestions to engage them:
- allow your workers to make suggestions for a safer workplace;
- have them participate in purchasing personal protective equipment;
- let them conduct safety evaluations; and
- put them on problem-solving committees.
Successful employee engagement in every company program, including safety, will depend predominately on the support and enthusiasm of those in leadership roles.
Positive Reinforcement Enhances Safety
In the past, one of the boss’s primary functions was to point out and correct the mistakes of their workers. Today, positive reinforcement, such as thanking an employee for completing a task efficiently, has been shown to reinforce the positive behavior and cause it to happen in the future.
Safety programs also benefit from positive reinforcement. When supervisors take the time to notice and commend safe acts by their workers, those actions will likely be repeated. And research on employee satisfaction indicates reminding employees that they are working safely and thanking them for their efforts goes a long way toward motivating them.
Positive reinforcement, however, does not mean ignoring accidents, even if they are minor. Supervisors must continue to address safety issues, but more as a learning opportunity and less in an accusatory manner.
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