We know that failure to implement and develop a safe working environment can cost companies, both from a productivity perspective and financial standpoint. A staggering 38.8 million working days were lost in 2019/20 due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries, highlighting the necessity to educate and engage your employees in health and safety.
It’s no coincidence that a committed workforce and upbeat safety culture are inevitably intertwined, but hectic daily schedules and an eagerness to get results often means that safety practices fade into the background.
Positive employee engagement comes from the top, but according to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 there is also an element of responsibility attached to the individual concerned to “take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other people at work.”
An engaged worker will impact positively on day-to-day operations, contribute to the growth and reputation of the company, look out for other members of staff, and may even be forthcoming with ideas to increase safety efficiency.
The importance of employee participation in the process cannot be overlooked, so encouraging them to connect with your ethos can be achieved through decisive action plans, effective communication streams, and inspiring leadership.
Demonstrate to your staff that you value health and safety by actively putting measures in place to safeguard the wellbeing of everyone connected to the company. This entails much more than simply carrying out risk assessments.
Talk directly to staff. Deliver internal presentations. Produce documentation that explains safety procedures, such as how to safely use a piece of machinery.
Another great habit to fall into is ensuring your own workspace doesn’t fall below expected standards. It should be orderly, uncluttered, and free of potential trip hazards which stand as the most common cause of workplace injury.
By encouraging employee feedback and spawning healthy debate, you are instilling a sense of ownership in your workforce. Forming a safety committee and holding regular safety meetings offers employees the opportunity to voice any areas of concern or suggestions for improvement.
Before making any amendments to company policy, make sure your employees are consulted. When your employees feel like their input is valued, they are more inclined to engage in the process. Don’t forget - a workforce that feels appreciated and involved in the decision-making process plays an integral role in a high performing workplace.
Consider what type of training works best for each employee and encourage them to attend programs or tutorials that are reactive to the business’ risks and needs. Assist by researching what training format is most likely to complement their learning style and explain how it will enhance their own career, as well as benefit the company.
Offering your workers responsibilities in this subject area can also help stimulate engagement. Trust them to provide guidance to others and articulate how first aid is a fundamental part of health and safety within the company by offering to send them on a course.
Keep their growth and development up-to-date through regular training and support to ensure they remain confident in their roles. Naturally, the company will retain employees for longer, which keeps the ‘company culture’ embedded and easier to oversee.
Remember to acknowledge your appreciation for exemplary health and safety behaviour within the organisation. Sometimes all it takes is two words - ‘thank you’.
In many ways, it should be instinctive for all of us to cooperate so that a positive safety culture evolve, but there are other incentives to consider which could potentially bear fruit. These could include monthly gift vouchers or gym membership, which also brings positive benefits for an individual’s mental and physical health.
In any industry, working safely is just as important as working productively. An engaged worker is a safe employee - keep them on your side.