Every organisation that has the welfare of its employees at heart has programs put in place to ensure workers are always safe as they go about with their everyday duties. These programs are usually put together by top management and push down to the floor to be followed by the employees. Most often than not, these programs fail not because it was not well structured or well instituted but rather, the employees who these programs were made for consciously or unconsciously refused to follow or be involved with these safety programs.
The question then is, “how do we get employees to be part or involved with safety programs?” There are no one answer to such question. What really works depend on a lot of factors which some are discussed below.
- Employees Must Be Given Health and Safety Responsibilities. Employees must know what is expected of them when it comes to safety. Just as their responsibilities are spelt out in the contract letters, safety responsibilities must also be included there in. This way, employees are always aware about the commitment they have with health and safety and the need to treat safety issues with the urgency it deserves just as they do with their duties and responsibilities.
- Make Employees Owners of the Safety Process. Employees must be well motivated to take part of the safety processes of the organisation and the most powerful source of motivation comes from their being able to own the process. To do this, employees must be adequately trained and given the appropriate tools and resources to be able to take charge of the process. It is only when employees are made owners of the process will the process itself survive in the long run.
- Encourage Employees to Report Workplace Hazards. Hazard identification and reporting is one of the backbone of every successful safety programs. Getting employees to report on workplace hazards helps them to be an input of the program. To sustain employees enthusiasm in reporting hazards, hazards reported must be duly worked on and the feedback given to the employees. When reported hazards are not rectified, employees lose interest in reporting hazards and that goes a long way to hurt safety processes.
- Get Workers Involved in Making safety Decisions. When workers are consulted in making safety decisions, they feel part and parcel of the whole safety programs. Their enthusiasm is sustained in the program when they realise their inputs are well respected and incorporated into safety systems. Consulting employees on issues such as PPE selection, safe systems of work and other decisions affecting their wellbeing is very essential. This can be done through safety representations, selecting delegate or volunteers from employees to give opinion on matters of health and safety
- Constant Marketing of Health and Safety Programs. At every opportunity and in every discussion, employees must be made aware of the ongoing health and safety programs. Every meeting can be started with a “safety share” and through that safety programs will be made known to employees. Constant selling of safety programs is essential in getting workers on their toe about health and safety issues. In every corner and in every place where workers usually gather, safety slogans can be pasted there to sensitize workers on ongoing safety campaign.
- Promote Health and Safety Day. A day should be chosen where employees are allowed to bring their grievances on safety on board to be discussed. On this day, majority of employees should be given the chance to talk about their observations and the way forward. This day can be the opportunity to discuss health and safety records and the improvement needed.
- Give Employees Safety Task. Identify leaders from the workers rank and involve them in various safety activities such safety observations, workplace inspections, and in training. Give these leaders the platform to communicate their findings to the entire workforce. Encourage others who might also want to be involved to take part in the safety task.