The New Year has begun -- the time when most people think about setting new goals and reflect on the ones they made last year. What went wrong and what went right? Where can we improve? Where do we need to focus our attention?
There are always many areas in business that can be improved upon and safety often starts at the top of the list, but like many New Year's resolutions, ideas to improve safety quickly taper off, becoming more like the daily nuisance.
How do we keep safety at the top of the list year round? Here are a few things that I feel will help you and your employees stay on track:
- Allow your employees to present ideas for improvement. Employees know more than we give them credit sometimes. It helps people to feel really good when they know they can go to their supervisor, manager, or safety representative to present an idea for improvement, and he or she will really listen. People can get discouraged when they feel they either don’t have an open door or never receive any feedback from their ideas.
- Show your employees that you appreciate their efforts. When you see, or even hear of, an employee doing something that is proactive, recognize it and let everyone know. Make a big deal of it in a positive way.
- If it's your company's practice to provide safety talks at the beginning of each shift (which is a great custom, by the way), don’t be tempted to present them halfheartedly. Be enthusiastic. Let your employees know that you are genuinely concerned about their safety and that what is being presented could make the difference in their going home with or without injury. Sometimes it can be more effective to let one of your employees present the safety talk.
- Involve your employees in training. Have your senior employees become mentors to the young and new employees -- they all need someone to watch their backs and help them through new challenges. New employees are usually eager to look to the employee that has been on the job the longest for advice and direction. Put together a mentoring program for senior employees so they can help.
- Show employees that you care. We all hope that an injury doesn't occur. But if it does, have some compassion. Let the employee know that the first thing on your mind is that he is okay and that he's going to receive the proper medical attention. An employee who requires medical treatment can get very nervous and worried that he is going to lose his job just because he got hurt. When he returns to work, sit down with the employee to discuss the incident and how it happened, with concern.
- The last thing, don’t cringe in front of the employees when you see the safety guy coming. Where health and safety are concerned, he's your team's biggest fan!
Let’s start out the New Year with a good attitude and strive to make it fun. After all, our jobs are our homes away from home.