People are the most important resource for any company, no matter the industry. Because of this, ensuring that people resources are working efficiently and effectively should be a universal executive priority. Sadly one element of that workforce productivity that falls through the cracks is corporate safety culture.
Creating a culture of safety requires a deep understanding of the organizational-wide hazards and potential dangers of the workplace, whatever they may be. But these days many organizations are falling short of this goal.
The safety training gap
One reason for this gap in safety awareness and importance is training, or lack thereof. The reality is that training employees on the dangers of the workplace and how to avoid them can be a bit easier said than done. Developing training programs that will resonate and spur changes in behavior is a difficult, but important task.
For this to happen, training programs and materials must be relevant and understandable. Training should take into account the needs of new workers and existing workers. Great training programs must also take into consideration when work practices or work equipment changes, job changes, and even the introduction of new technology.
Safety training needs to convey a message that as an employee, you have a duty to co-operate with a company’s preventive measures, following instructions in accordance with training given and taking care of your own and work mates’ safety and health. In other words, training needs to help people understand how to work safely.
So what steps can you put in place to ensure that your health and safety training will be a program that drives real results, and helps your organization take steps towards building a culture of safety?
Here are three simple, but effective tips to keep in mind:
1. Walk a mile in employees shoes
It’s very old advice, but advice that works tends to be the kind that gets old. In this case this old advice can definitely be applied to safety training.
Whenever you are developing any type of training program, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. For the program to be successful, it needs to resonate and speak to your audience in a language they understand.
An easy way to understand the language (and context) of safety for your workers, is to spend some time in their world, and spend time walking in their shoes.
Doing so can start with a simple mental exercise. Ask yourself these questions when developing your safety training:
- How will safety policy changes affect this person’s ability to do their job and day to day tasks?
- How will these results be measured, and do those metrics make sense to workers?
- How can training impact these safety results in a positive way?
2. Don’t ignore the data
When it comes to business decisions, it’s important to not only rely on your gut, but to back-up any gut instincts with data. In the world of safety and safety training that means being able to define safety standards with specific numbers and use them to identify improvement goals and milestones.
This is where turning to health and safety software can help. The real value of safety software shows up in two ways. First, by recording all incidents and near misses, data can show you your benchmark results. Second, by keeping accurate and thorough records, you can also help to identify root causes of your safety incidents. With these two sets of observations you can begin to make decisions such as whether issues are isolated cases, or if concerning trends are emerging that should be identified as areas for improvement through training.
It’s important to note that seeing under-performing results, while unfortunate, is OK. That is simply a data proof point that perhaps your training programs could use a refresh or revisit, to improve results moving forward.
3. Spend some time out in the field
Every once in a while the data can be misleading. There is no better way to verify or double check what data is telling you, than to venture out into the field.
Would you like to know how training results are impacting the day to day activities of your workers?
Go out and observe them in their natural habitat. Sometimes it’s the indirect behavioral changes that end up making the biggest difference. Observations at the field level allow you to make note of these and account for them in future training revisions.
Safety training, and the topic of safety culture, is huge conversation that involves many other elements. But hopefully these three tips give you some food for thought as you’re planning out your own corporate safety initiatives. If you have any comments or feedback, we’d love to hear those as well, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section here.