Safety Culture - What Approach Do You Use To Motivate?

What is a safety manager anyway?

It starts with the implications of the job - what you're required to do. At a bare minimum, a safety manager should be competent in knowing the industry standards, practices and hazards associated with employee tasks.

We've seen much talk about pushing safety managers to "increase safety culture", but what does that actually mean? If a job description like that relies solely on one person to do, it's likely this task will never be successful. Does the safety manager even have the power to do this on his/her own without roadblocks from management?

Companies that change culture require a like-minded attitude by all management. Communication is a must between sales, procurement, safety, project managers, owners/officers. There's no way to convince a worker to put safety first if the only person asking is the safety manager.


What approach can you take as a safety manager?

Set Goals - You must first analyze what is lacking or what makes high priority. Data is king here to find out what injuries and hazards are most prevalent. List them out and attack them one-by-one. Make a case to present to your management team and departments on what needs changed and how it might benefit each department. Set timelines and budgets for your goals. Goals without timelines are just dreams. Benchmarks within your timelines are a great way to show actual progress.

Communicate - Safety professional have a vast network of resources and colleagues. There are safety shows, groups and PPE reps all across the country that are more than willing to help. There is a meaningful effect to what we do! Educational conferences are a great way to meet others in the safety industry and share thoughts.

Allow your workers to approach you, supervisors and project managers about safety concerns and "wish lists" without being reprimanded.

Show Gratitude - It's okay to thank your colleagues and workers along the way. Little wins mean you are heading in the right direction. Acknowledge that other departments might be making compromises to time or budget to help you reach your goal.

PREPARE, Don't Procrastinate - Everything boils down to two way you can approach your job, be proactive or be reactive. Your basic job function is to know industry standards and job hazards right? So why are you waiting until John Doe cuts his hand to implement cut resistant gloves, or implementing a Type 2 helmet for those individuals working at heights? Simply put, am I prepared for what the day could bring, and if not, do I have the resources to handle the outcome of unknown events?

It's like a games of chess, the winner will think ahead, think of all possibilities and move accordingly.

Motivation comes easily to those that prepare and understand the employee job tasks. Are your workers comfortable in their PPE, are they provided the correct PPE specific to job tasks? We've found that companies with the most successful safety programs are outfitting their workers with items they WANT to use, things that make their job easier while going above and beyond to protect.


When has the bare minimum ever inspired anyone?

When it comes to implementing your safety program, are you simply checking boxes? I've never met an inspirational leader that motivated people by just getting by. Are you doing enough research to go above and beyond? Remember, OSHA is the bare minimum, there is nothing from stopping you from setting an example and a new standard within your own company.

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