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December 31, 2007
Keep Safety in the Forefront--Even After Training

Team up to solve problems and improve safety. One excellent way to keep safety in the forefront is to encourage employee participation in improving workplace safety and promoting safety and health programs. And one of the best ways to do that is through the work of safety committees. You can also encourage involvement by setting up employee teams in every department to identify and solve safety problems specific to particular work areas and jobs. Let team members gather information, analyze possible causes of safety problems, develop and test solutions, and implement and monitor results. Being part of a safety team makes members feel that they share responsibility for workplace safety. That keeps your safety message alive and keeps employees engaged and learning even after they complete required training.

Talk up safety every day. Use every opportunity to talk to your people about safety. Keep them up to date on new information that affects their safety. Provide lots of feedback, praising safe performance, correcting unsafe behavior, and pointing out areas for improvement. And make sure communication flows both ways. Encourage your employees to come to you with safety suggestions, problems, and questions. A great way to encourage two-way communication about safety is to implement and support an active suggestion system.

Why It Matters ...
  • Training is only the first step in continuous safety improvement--after that, employees have to use what they learn to make their jobs and the whole workplace safer.
  • By making employees partners in your safety and health programs and initiatives, you greatly increase the chance that safety improvement efforts will succeed.
  • When all your employees know and choose the safe way every day, you'll have a safer, healthier workplace and fewer accidents and injuries.

Encourage employees to be hazard detectives--and reporters. Assign every worker the responsibility of looking for hazards in their work areas and all over your facility. Set up an effective system for reporting safety and health problems, and respond promptly to correct hazards that employees identify. This is harder than it sounds because it means management has to really listen when employees talk about safety problems and concerns.

Management has to accept the fact that often employees know their jobs better than anyone else and therefore may be in the best position to identify potential hazards that might otherwise be overlooked.

Create a "want-to" safety culture. Finally, try to create a safety culture that prompts employees to do the safe thing not because they have to, but because they want to avoid injuries. Help your workers see the value in making safe decisions. Remind them how many safety-related decisions they make every day and how one bad decision is all it takes to get hurt.

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