Companies regularly introduce safety programs to employees with high hopes. All too often these programs fall short of expectations, and “new and improved” programs are introduced. Typically the problems aren’t with the programs themselves, but rather with the environment into which they are introduced and the methods used to develop, implement and support them.
If safety in the workplace was influenced only by what people know there would be no more injuries. We all have enough information available to keep every employee safe. Why is it that certain safety approaches work well in some companies and not at all in other companies?
Employees act more on “how we feel” and less on “what we know”. So how do we influence how employees feel about safety?
The “REB” Principle
Rational: What do we need to know? In most cases, injuries are not the result of a lack of knowledge, they are the result of a lapse in judgment, a lack of attention or a rush to get a job done.
Emotional: The hardest part of safety is dealing with human nature. Fortunately, human nature is fairly predictable. Consider what makes people perform at their best…and at their worst? Think about training programs and seminars that have been informative and enjoyable to attend. Now answer these questions:
- What kind of safety education and programs are you teaching? Do they match? If no, why not?
- Would you do anything differently if participation in your safety efforts was voluntary, but your salary was dependent upon 100% participation?
- How often and in what way do you tell people they have value?
- Do you shine a light on behaviors you’d like to see?
Behavior: Think about what influences your diet the most – the pyramid poster or what you have in your refrigerator? Work with employees to create an environment that invites behaviors that reduce the risk of injury. To truly be successful, injury prevention needs to become “the normal course of business”.
Make safety training fun with energy. Here are a few examples of how to energize your safety training:
Jeopardy Safety Training
• Training or reviewing OSHA Standards can be dry and hard to swallow. Use the Jeopardy format and divide the sessions in half to do a review after the training. The different Standards could have questions from easy to hard, with corresponding values. The teams alternate choosing a Standard topic and question value. If an individual answers it correctly, he/she receives a predetermined prize. When a team wins, everyone on the team receives a predetermined prize.
Weakest Link Game
• Quiz your ‘chain’ of participants on safety course content or training. Each person answers a quiz question. If they answer it correctly, they remain in the chain. If their answer is incorrect, the next person has the chance to answer the same question. Three wrong answers and the person, or ‘link’, is eliminated. The ‘links’ remaining when the quiz is complete receive a predetermined prize.
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
• Compile photos of safety mistakes (try Google-ing “funny safety fails”) and show each photo on screen or projector for 10-15 seconds, allowing time for participants to jot down what is wrong. There can be more than one safety issue in each picture, so encourage participants to pay attention to details! Once you’ve completed viewing the photos have everyone trade papers, review the safety issues in each photo, and assign points based on how many issues were noted. The highest score wins a predetermined prize or maybe a free lunch!
Remember for safety to become important to your employees it has to be important for everyone. Are the leaders of your organization in the safety training? Are the leading by example? Is your safety program exciting?