Most people are born with some safety sense. However, everyone needs to learn, re-learn, and be reminded of safe behaviors. It doesn’t matter how much previous training your employees have had. You still need to retrain and educate your employees about the specific safety requirements of your company.
Start your new employees out with a safety orientation that reviews safe procedures and teaches them to control hazards they will face while working for your company. Even though they may have had similar safety training from another job, retraining is still essential. After orientation, allow new employees to adapt to their new work environment and give them on-the-job safety training. Employee orientation is a very critical part of a successful safety program. Early communications from the company should include the concept that you operate safely. If an employee is going to work at your company, they will be safe—it is a condition of their employment. It is important to continually remind and train employees of safe behavior.
Regular safety meetings give you the opportunity to review the same safety procedures and methods taught in orientation and during on-the-job safety training. Continual review in safety meetings helps employees remember and focus on safe ways of doing work. Holding scheduled safety meetings also helps employees realize that safe behavior is just as important as any other aspect of work. Safety messages should be a part of all pre-task planning.
Daily Safety Messages
Daily safety messages give another opportunity to reinforce what is taught in regular safety meetings. Give employees a safety message at the beginning of each shift. The message does not have to be lengthy; it can be a short reminder about a topic or behavior that will help the work day be safe. You can develop a list of important safety topics and your supervisors can select a topic each day. You can also have your supervisors develop a list. Focus on topics that will help you reduce the potential for injury.
Written Safety Program
Having a written safety program that covers safe procedures, describes unsafe conditions and behavior, and outlines the means to control hazards, provides safe behavior reinforcement. A written resource is valuable because it remains a consistent source of safety for all workers. Employees can turn to the written safety program to find, recall, and re-learn safe behaviors. Written safety programs should be working documents within each organization.
Completing regular and random safety surveys or audits to find and correct hazardous conditions and behavior also reinforces safe behavior. Involve employees in the process. Bring survey findings to employees and seek suggestions on preventing the recurrence of these hazards. Employees can also be taught to conduct their own safety surveys.
Providing safety incentives is another common way of reinforcing safe behavior. Rewarding safe behavior motivates workers to be careful and cautious. Motivated by goals to reduce the number and severity of accidents, to be accident free, etc., employees re-learn safe behavior. Safety incentives that are meaningful to employees have helped some employers reduce accident frequency and cost. Incentives that also reward the crew members as a group help employees work together safely, look out for each other, and focus more on safe behaviors.
The use of signage is an important part of a safety program. Signs help to identify hazardous conditions and remind people to work safely. Warning and caution signs should be posted in places to help personnel identify and be reminded of hazardous work operations. Signs are an important part of emergency evacuation and personnel performing safety surveys should be looking for proper signage. Safety incentive signs should be changed frequently and posted in high-traffic employee areas.
Line supervisors are critical to the success of safety programs. Supervisors who are trained and understand safety are in a good position to reinforce safe behavior. Supervisors who have the authority to stop and correct unsafe conditions and behavior are a tremendous asset because they can continually observe the workforce and the environment. They can also praise workers for safe behaviors, which can be an immediate safety reinforcement.
A preventative maintenance program reminds employees to maintain equipment in safe operating condition. Completing regularly scheduled maintenance according to manufacturers’ specifications helps keeps machinery in good repair and teaches employees the importance of maintenance work. Safe behavior reinforcement is a continual process. Conditions change, equipment changes, and the workforce changes. Just teaching safe behavior is not enough. Repetition, reminding, retraining, and reviewing safety will help employees retain information.
WCF Insurance Safety Department
NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.