I was recently helping an organization perform a debrief with some young seasonal workers who were returning to school, to see how we could improve the safety program for the next group in the following year. When asked what they thought “safety” meant, they struggled. Some thought it was about the personal protective equipment they should be wearing, some thought it was about a safety manual and many were not sure. From past experiences, this uncertainty about what safety “is” exists throughout most organizations.
The essence of “Safety” is about our collective ability to identify and control hazards to prevent harm. When we talk about a “Safety Program”, it is simply an organized way to support how the company works with everyone to identify and control hazards. So why is it so hard for people to articulate what safety means? Mainly, we make safety too complicated and lose people in the details.
Make It Simple
If the perception of safety in your organization is that it is complicated, hard to understand and apply, then it is probably time to take a different approach to simplifying the messaging. Here are some ways to make safety simpler.
- Develop a simple one-line statement to define safety for your organization and consistently use it throughout your interactions and initiatives.
- Consider using a simple model or infographic to make the safety process easy for everyone to understand.
- Integrate a simple safety model into an overall picture of your safety program to show how everything fits together.
- As you reinforce existing safety initiatives or roll out new ones, show everyone how they connect to your simplified approach to safety.
- Make your program worker-focused, rather than, compliance/audit focused. Safety Programs are only effective when workers understand why they are important and how to apply them. Meeting regulatory and audit requirements is easy when employees are committed to your program.
Build Commitment and Achieve Results
Building commitment is crucial to achieving exceptional results. Commitment is only possible when everyone understands why safety initiatives are being implemented and how it benefits them and their co-workers. If your process is complicated and difficult to understand, workers may do their best to comply, but the results will never match a truly committed organization.
Simplifying your approach to safety takes considerable effort and creativity but the results can be amazing.
If you need a simplified approach for your organization, check out our 4 STEPS/4 SKILLS™ Safety Training.