A safety program is a critical component of any company. A strong safety program keeps your employees and contractors safe, develops leadership skills, and dramatically improves communication, procedures, and workflows.
There’s just one problem most safety programs are just not exciting. Employees tend to drag their feet on the way to safety meetings, “tone out” during safety discussions, or worse. They completely ignore the information being presented. Boredom is the killer of interest. Thankfully, we can control all of this. Safety programs aren’t inherently dull; they are what we make of them. The more excited employees are about safety programs, the more successful the program.
So, here are a few things we can do to make safety more exciting and less of a chore.
First, we need to MAKE TIME for safety. If we want employees to get excited about safety, we need to make it the most comfortable portion of their working day. We have all heard “time is money” and “we don’t get paid to talk,” but we also need to consider the costs of accidents and injuries—the loss of production, the medical expenses, not to mention the physical pain and suffering. So we can’t fall prey to the concept that every minute on the clock needs to yield maximum working value. If we allow 5-10 minutes for everyone to relax and converse at the beginning of each day, this will create a habitual comfort response every time your employees are called to a safety meeting. This simple addition will significantly enhance employee participation, attention, and willingness to arrive.
Second, it is essential to communicate clearly and succinctly any safety topics to be presented or discussed. Employees who don’t fully understand the initial purpose of the program or meeting will quickly disengage, which will decrease the value and effectiveness of the safety program. While this may sound obvious, we encourage delving a little deeper into the opening statements of every meeting to convey what the meeting will cover and how it will be covered. This provides employees with a simple and clear understanding of the material to be covered. Also, any presentations provided to employees should look sharp and aesthetically pleasing. This is often overlooked, but a strong design has improved attention capabilities. While this may not generate excitement directly, it will certainly help prevent any regression towards disconnection and boredom.
Lastly, even the most attentive employees can get bored during a meeting or class. The adage if I hear it, I forget it. If I see it, I remember it, but if I DO it……….I will LEARN it. It is perfectly applicable here. When possible or practical, try to have more interactive meetings allowing employees to engage more with the subject matter. Additionally, ensure that open, interactive discussions are being conducted throughout the process to allow employee input and foster ownership throughout the program.
Creating a safety program that employees will be excited about requires consistent empathy and attention. One must consider, “Would I be excited about this program?”.