Inspiration succeeds where enforcement fails
Building a culture of safety does not just mean a new set of rules; it is a new philosophy of how to prevent injury in the workplace. In a culture of safety, safe behavior is not something the boss makes you do; it is a vital part of your job. When safety standards are internalized, employees can police their own safety much more effectively and thoroughly than an authority figure. As one safety professional put it, having a culture of safety means “having people work safely when nobody is looking.”
Communication Is The Key
The key to creating a culture of safety is enhanced communication between employees and management. Often, this means opening up new lines for the exchange of information and making sure everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and concerns about safety. This is what makes peer-to-peer education programs so powerful. When a select group of employees are trained as Safety Ambassadors—given safety information, knowledge of the best techniques to communicate that information, and firsthand experience with protective equipment—they can bridge the communication gap on safe conditions and behavior much more easily than an authority figure, and much more efficiently than a few overworked safety officers.
The Benefits of Peer-toPeer Networks in Building Strong Safety Cultures
A successful peer-to-peer safety education program also brings benefits to every member of an organization. Managers face lower injury numbers and higher productivity, and owners see higher profits. Peer educators develop leadership and problem solving skills, and other workers, with the guidance of trainers they know, trust, and respect, gain a better understanding of safety procedures and the proper use of safety equipment in their job. Finally, safety directors, freed of the obligation to train every employee and answer every question, have more energy to devote to other important duties. By taking advantage of existing peer networks, any company can thus reduce injury, increase productivity, and build a stronger safety culture.
To find out more about how to build a culture of safety, visit the culture of safety online resource center at www.uvex.us/inspiringsafety.