Columns

YOUR TURN: Rules of engagement

September 7, 2009
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

Many articles about safety training emphasize management’s role in terms of their responsibility to develop and implement the training program. However, not enough is said about manager and supervisor involvement in safety training. If managers and supervisors never attend safety training, is safety truly an organizational value? It doesn’t appear that way to hourly workers who are required to attend training.

Safety training is more than classes and computer or DVD training. For a program to be effective, management and supervisors need to do more than stand on the sidelines directing the process. When management and supervisors attend safety meetings, do walkthroughs and talk to employees to gain their input, things can quickly change for the better.

The following ten rules of engagement will enable your management team to make an optimal contribution to your safety culture.
  1. Align with employees.

    Take the time to learn your hourly employees’ jobs and work areas. Most employees, when asked, are very happy to share what they do and how they do it. Who better knows how a job is done and how it can be done safely than the people who work in the facility every day? Employees are a valuable information resource that management and supervision must not overlook. Bottom line: listen!

  2. Lead by example.

    Hourly employees often mimic the actions of those above them. Managers and supervisors set the tone. If they violate or ignore safety hazards and behaviors, they encourage employees to do likewise.

  3. Learn the environment.

    The culture of a facility plays a paramount role in the safety process. Only if managers and supervisors know the existing culture can they make a change and help develop a new safety culture. One of the best methods to effect change is to conduct safety culture surveys done by outside resources for assurance of “no bias.” Taking this step is a positive sign to hourly workers that safety is important and is truly an organizational value.

  4. Entrust all employees to contribute.

    Empowerment of employees is a catch phrase that has become overused. Nonetheless, it really needs to happen for employees to want to actively participate in the safety program. Management and supervision need to provide the help, resources and encouragement for employees to make a contribution to safety training needs and to the safety process as a whole.

  5. Non-threatening environment provided.

    Employees need to feel safe when relaying safety issues and suggestions. If they are punished for reporting “near misses,” management will never be able to make use of one of the most successful tools for identifying and preventing potential accidents and injuries. Managers and supervisors need to be active in soliciting and rewarding this type of open communication.

  6. Gain trust.

    Developing trust between management, supervisors and hourly employees has always been challenging. The only way this situation can improve is for management and supervisors to become actively engaged in safety training and to continually encourage employees to share their extensive knowledge and first-hand experience.

  7. Action plan for training developed.

    A clear action plan must be developed each year and modified to meet the training needs of the facility and the employees. Inviting employees to work directly with managers and supervisors to develop this action plan can go a long way toward achieving an effective program.

  8. Give positive reinforcement.

    In the workplace as well as in normal living, people are very quick to give criticism. It is easy to take good actions for granted, and many people seldom offer positive reinforcement as basic as a “thank-you.” Take the time to provide positive reinforcement by recognizing safe behaviors and practices.

  9. Enliven training.

    Safety training is often not very exciting. When employees realize they have to go through yet another training session, their reaction is often dread followed by moaning. Whenever possible, inject an element of fun into training. Most people will tune out straight lecturing and monologue, so be sure to give employees plenty of opportunities to participate in the flow of communication. Participation exercises are valuable tools for engaging everyone in the process.

  10. Develop solid communication systems.

    The continual flow of communication in all directions has been, and always will be, an invaluable contributor to successful training and process efficiency. Management and supervision should be responsible for assuring that this flow is not impeded. A solid plan for keeping lines of communication open and for offering encouragement to employees must be developed and continually reviewed for effectiveness.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

Recent Articles by DJ Borbidge

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

12/11/14 11:00 am EST

Why Flame Resistant Workwear? Understanding Workplace Hazards and OSHA Compliance

By defining the leading causes of flash fires, electric arc and molten metal splatter, we will address the ways in which companies can better protect their employees from such hazards through proper staff outfitting. In the topic, we will discuss the benefits of – and recent developments to – flame-resistant workwear and what to consider when creating a program for your employees.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN1214_cover.jpg

2014 December

Check out ISHN's last issue of the year, which features articles about distance learning, foot protection and confined space.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.