This is an excerpt from our free patterns guide. It reviews several patterns that you can recreate to improve the results of your current EHS program.
Acknowledge the human element
Safety programs that are designed to pass audits are typically more focused on the bottom line than workers’ safety. The most common issue we notice with new clients is that when they identify the problems with their safety program—whether they want to improve their safety culture, reduce injuries, create a more safety-focused climate, increase employee engagement—the one thing they often overlook is that these things all involve people (the human element). SafeStart focuses on human factors in safety, regardless of industry or job function. By concentrating on employees as individuals you can increase awareness and build habits. It also makes employees accountable for their own safety. There’s a misconception that focusing on the human factor means blaming the worker for their wrong-doing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Focusing on the human element provides a shared understanding at all levels. When problems arise, human factors training helps all levels look to a solution instead of trying to find something (or someone) to blame it on. A person’s state of mind can significantly impact the likelihood that they will make a critical error that will affect their workplace or their health. SafeStart has discovered a pattern that helps to trigger on the state before an error occurs. This pattern applies to almost all situations and explains how risk increases with human factors.
24/7 safety focus
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. And when it comes to safety training, you can implement dozens of safety programs, but without true buy-in from the participants, it won’t make them safe. To get that buy-in, you need to appeal to your employees’ personal agenda. People are often looking for the “What’s in it for me?” aspect when it comes to compliance measures and our clients have told us that their employees rank the safety of their family much higher than their own. The thought of 24/7 safety (off-the-job safety) in a safety program appeals to the personal agenda of employees. A good 24/7 safety approach requires communication. Some employees may be apprehensive about safety rules that apply to them outside of work. It’s important that employees know that their safety and well-being are important, no matter where they are. Take it a step further and provide resources they can use to help keep their families safe.
When employees take that message home to their families, it will rub off on them too. There are companies that mandate off-the-job safety (monitoring personal driving infractions, mandatory drug tests, etc.) but we have found that voluntary compliance for 24/7 safety gets the buy-in required to be successful. Our clients have told us about the improvements they’ve seen in things like fewer missed days from work due to injuries, reduced costs for replacing workers, more employees reporting personal injuries and personal conversations about safety happening naturally. As one safety professional at Plymouth Tube says, “I hear a lot of stories from staff about things they’re doing now that they never were before—like wearing hearing protection at home.” A 24/7 safety focus means that if they’re thinking about PPE at home, they’re guaranteed to wear it on the job. That safety mindset will create safer conditions no matter where they are. Most often, companies aren’t looking for 24/7 safety solutions when they begin their journey with us. They’re looking to reduce their workplace rate of injury or prevent serious workplace incidents. Only after realizing that most of the risk for their workers is outside of work and that the key to improving workplace safety is focusing off-the-job and teaching universal habits and skills do they see this counterintuitive pattern materialize.
SafeStart has worked with tens of thousands of safety professionals over the last three decades and we’ve found they typically all have the same problems and follow a similar path of discovering safety success. In our 5 Repeatable Patterns for Safety Success guide, we share the patterns we’ve seen that have helped organizations in almost every industry achieve better safety results—with a few client examples from their success stories to illustrate our point.