Building a safety culture requires plenty of planning for a human resource department and it also requires investment of time and money from the organization’s side. Being able to reduce the risk factors associated with workplace injuries is beneficial both to the employees and to the organization. Thus, having a safety culture in the organizations will help in improving the productivity of the employees.
The first step towards building a safety culture in an organization is to change the mindsets of the employees. It is generally done at two levels: get individuals to stop doing certain things and get them to start doing other things.
The following steps will help organizations to foster a true safety culture among employees:
1. Implementing workplace safety policy
The first and foremost action that needs to be taken to create a safer workplace is to implement a workplace safety policy. The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) of USA recommends that all organizations should have a written safety policy. It consists of a checklist for best practices at workplace and for preventing probable hazards. It is developed in the form of an employee manual and is distributed among the employees. Other countries have similar policies which are binding on organizations operating within their geographical areas. Organizations need to adhere to this safety policy.
2. Promote learning or education in the workplace
Having the policy in place is the first part. What is more important is creating awareness about safety being necessary for the overall well-being of the employees as well as the organization. It involves educating the employees about the possible dangers faced by workers on the job. Proper use of workplace equipment and safety habits are some of the basics that can be taught to employees through training. They need to be educated on various aspects that they encounter at the workplace such as the meaning of each of the symbols they see during the course of their jobs – for example, a radio-active substance is shown with a circle in an yellow background having three small black sectors.
3. Enhancing communication
It is important to promote open communication between the workers and management regarding the importance of a safety culture in a workplace. Employees need to be given the liberty to share their ideas and concerns about safety. Using their feedback, better ways to improve safety at workplace can be evolved.
4. Providing the right tools for the job
Apart from teaching and keeping the communication channels open, the management needs to provide safety tools and equipment to the workers/ employees. Using the right tools for the right job ensures that there are no accidents due to improper usage of equipment or tools.
5. Strong leadership
Strong support from the management is necessary so that stringent measures are taken to make safety issues the first priority of an organization. They should always try to build a safer environment, by building awareness of the possible dangers and taking corrective action when negative choices are made. They should use a reward and recognition system to promote safety behavior. Last but not the least, organizations can adopt programs like Six Sigma to use resources effectively and make them accountable for the safety of their employees.
The most important thing to develop a safety culture in an organization is the commitment and the positive approach of all people involved.
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