Health And Safety Awareness Training In The Workplace

In our day to day work lives, most of us are probably busy worrying about deadlines and paycheques and whether there will be bagels at the staff meeting…

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if there was an emergency, no amount of work done or money earned (or even bagels) will help you.

And I’m not saying we should be spending our days constantly going over safety protocols, but how confident do you feel in those protocols in the first place?

And perhaps the fact that most of us aren’t worrying about workplace safety, is because we feel confident in our team leaders to know what to do (do they?). Or perhaps we don’t think about it because we’ve become too complacent with our job security (and I don’t mean getting a contract renewed or performing well at a yearly evaluation…).

Do You Take Occupational Health And Safety Training Seriously?

But even if we did receive training, even extensive training, even if we receive it on a regular basis, do you take Occupational Health and Safety Training seriously?

After all, it’s easy to sit back and tune out, assuming someone else is listening…

The reason I bring this up, is because no organization can afford to ignore or slow down efforts to instill (not just hold training sessions) safety consciousness throughout its workforce.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and while I’m not advocating living in fear, I am advocating being prepared.

Everyone Is Responsible For Workplace Safety

Don’t tune out...everyone is responsible for workplace safety.

Today I want to share with you how to achieve an effective health and safety training program so that everyone (not just Occupational Health and Safety officers or Safety Managers) can feel confident in how secure they truly are at work.

Let’s start with a quick poll:

  1. How many times have you been in an evacuation drill at your workplace?
  2. Do you know where all of the emergency exits are from your work area?
  3. Do you know where the fire extinguishers are? How do they work? What types are they?
  4. Do you know what the different emergency alarms sound like?
  5. Do you have a Grab-N-Go bag at your work area ready to leave with you?
  6. Do you know who the Fire Wardens are?
  7. Do you know who the backup Fire Wardens are?
  8. Do they actively promote safety in your workplace?   

How’d you do? Did this brief assessment make you feel better, or throw you into a panic?

Just remember that realizing there is a problem is the only way to find a solution…

Let’s start finding a solution by reviewing the critical ‘best practice elements’ of an effective safety management program:

  • Management commitment
  • Communication
  • Worksite analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Training for employees, supervisors and managers, and
  • Employee involvement

I realize that list sounds nice and dandy in theory, but how can we even get those elements instilled into our workplace?

8 Suggestions To Create A Brilliant Health And Safety Program

Once again, fear not! Here are 8 tips to help you achieve a safety program that you’ll be proud to discuss at your next dinner party:

1. Make everyone a hazard detective

Workplace conditions are always changing, so if you become complacent and start taking things for granted, a hazard might develop where you least expect it.

Workplace conditions are always changing, so if you become complacent and start taking things for granted, a hazard might develop where you least expect it. Click To Tweet

You can’t assume everything is safe just because people don’t complain about safety problems. Everyone has a responsibility to walk through their workplace each day and look at the work areas from a safety perspective. Remember, if you’re looking for things, and they are there, you’ll see them…

2. Know the rules and champion them

Always make sure that hazards and accident prevention issues are highlighted during new employee orientation opportunities. Then follow this up in weekly safety meetings, informal talks, as well as those mandatory training sessions. Be sure that you thoroughly understand all the rules and regulations that apply to your workplace. Be an advocate for them and champion the reasons why the rules and regulations are there in the first place. Rules are less likely to be broken or ignored when workers understand why they were established initially, and how they are designed to protect workers from injuries and illness.

3. Continually communicate

It’s critical to talk about workplace safety at every opportunity. Recognize those people who are demonstrating safe work practices, and at the same time make sure that unsafe work behaviours are corrected and improved.

4. Always be specific

Vague and generalized statements and comments about working safely don’t make any difference. In order for employees to know what they should do and how they should do it, the language about workplace safety practices must be specific. Always look for an opportunity to provide handouts, job aids, checklists, procedural guidelines, and operating manuals. Remember, making assumptions about what something means (or whether everyone understands) can be fatal.

5. Problem solve in teams

One great way to encourage everyone to get involved in solving safety problems, is to divide employees into teams. Let them gather information, analyze problems, and look for possible causes of safety problems. Encourage them to develop and test solutions as well as ways to implement and monitor the results of their efforts. Being part of a safety team makes members feel that they share responsibility for workplace safety – which they do. When other employees see their coworkers getting involved and making the job safer for everyone, they’ll want to be involved as well.

6. Be on the lookout for ‘attitudes’

Complacency, carelessness, or risk-taking is visible if you’re looking for it. If you see this type of behaviour happening, make sure that you talk one-on-one with the individuals involved. Consider holding a safety meeting to review policies and procedures with everyone, and always consider using incidents in the workplace as an opportunity to provide more information or improve skills. Always promote positive safety performance during team meetings or individual conversations.

7. Be consistent

Ensure that the enforcement of safety standards is done uniformly and consistently throughout the workplace. Allowing some workers to bend the rules and then expecting to enforce them with the rest of the workforce won’t be beneficial for anyone. Likewise, if you take an employee to task one day for not following a rule, don’t ignore the same behaviour the next day. Always explain why the behaviour is wrong and how to do it correctly. It does no one any good if you tell an employee that they did something wrong without an explanation.

8. Reward good behaviour

It’s a fundamental need of all employees to seek approval and recognition. When workers follow safe work practices or make safety suggestions, acknowledge this and express gratitude.

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Be A Safety Champion!

Do you feel a little better about tackling workplace safety or are you completely overwhelmed?

The main point I hope you can take away from this list is that when you are championing safety within your organization, you have to ensure that you SHOW UP with PRESENCE (mind and body) and promote safety in a way that is infectious to others, while helping them understand just why this safety “stuff” is so important in the first place.

And in order to convey to others that we are serious in our role (whether manager or not), we need to display our confidence, our passion, and our enthusiasm.

If you aren’t in a leadership position, you can still be a champion of safety. Take this least to someone who can implement it or start discussing safety awareness with your co-workers. You may get a few eye rolls now, but don’t give up! Remember, it’s in everyone’s best interest to take a hard look at the state of safety training in the workplace.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, emotions are infectious, so if any of us demonstrate that we don’t care, then neither will Henry in accounting or Samantha in sales, and the eye rolls will be rampant.

And when this happens, your organization has an unnecessary risk. A risk that may not be exposed until the building fills with smoke and people don’t know what to do, how to get out, or where to go if they do get out.

Let’s make sure that we are always being proactive, rather than learning from the findings and recommendations of a coroners’ jury.

So, if you are involved in safety training for your organization, ensure that anyone else involved acts as ‘champions’ and ‘advocates’ for safety as well!

After all, in the world of safety, we should never TELL people how to behave, we should always SHOW them how to behave.

And always keep in mind that a ‘best-in-class’ safety program is not created overnight, but with consistent application of these steps I’ve outlined, you can achieve something quite incredible…

2018-09-21T08:51:20+00:00

About the Author:

Phil Eastwood is a former London Bobby who brings a thirty-five year career in policing to his role as Senior Partner of Fiore Group Training, a recognized leader in training top North American organizations. Phil is lead author of workplace training courses in respectful workplace training, workplace violence employee training, and leadership training seminars.

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