There is a threat existing in many workplaces around the world that most people do not know about. This hazard cannot be mitigated by safety harnesses or helmets, nor can it be prevented through diligent hand washing and face masks. This danger that pervades workplace safety in all industries and in all countries is silence. One of the biggest threats to your company’s well being is having a safety culture where your workers do not feel like they can speak up at work when it comes to their safety. These people understand your company’s safety issues better than anyone and it is in everybody’s best interests that they have a loud voice in this area.
Here are six tips to foster a comfortable safety culture and open work environment where your team will feel safe to speak up at work and to express their concerns around safety in the workplace. Remember, cultivating a respectful safety culture is essential to protecting mental health in the workplace.
Silence is like approval
First of all, when there is a conflict or a potential safety issue – big or small – it is sometimes easier to “not cross that bridge” and not say anything. The problem is that silence can be as loud as words, expressing acceptance or indifference of a safety issue by not saying anything. Encourage your team to speak up if they see anything that could threaten the wellbeing of the team and your safety culture.
While it is important to have strongly worded and enforced policies for the safety of your workers, zero tolerance company protocols can actually dissuade them from speaking about safety issues and affect safety culture. Instead, clearly communicate which behaviors are not allowed and that any violations will result in appropriate discipline – do not use the words “zero tolerance.”
Reward those who speak up
It can be verbal praise in front of the team or gift card from your local coffee shop, but reward those who speak up, making it explicitly clear that the organization welcomes this kind of behaviour. Not only will this encourage your team to be more vocal about possible safety issues, but rewards can also educate them about issues to look out for.
Some workers won’t report an issue if they feel nothing will be done about it. Additionally, after reporting a safety issue, workers aren’t updated by HR and management (sometimes for legal reasons), assuming nothing was done. But having a culture of transparency and openness encourages staff to speak up at work by demonstrating accountability by management and earning the trust of your team.
Emphasize the greater good
When encouraging your team to speak up, put emphasis on the fact that this is for the greater good of their coworkers and the safety culture of the company. The best-case scenario is that someone’s life is saved. The worst-case scenario is that someone disagrees, but at least the issue was addressed and a decision can be made.
Talk to your team
While all of these tips can encourage workers to comfortably voice concerns, you may have to do some reporting and individually speak to your team or survey them about why they are not expressing any concerns that could impact workplace safety. Honest and regular communication is a pillar in a strong workplace culture. Creating a culture of safety protects your team and your company.
Take your safety culture a step further
Establishing a strong safety culture starts with working with your team, creating a safe work environment, and making sure your workers feel comfortable enough to speak up about any concerns. But if you want to take it a step further, look at helping those who may be the most vulnerable like lone or remote workers. Invest in a dependable, automated lone and remote worker monitoring service, like SafetyLine, to ensure your isolated staff feel safer as well as provide you with more peace of mind that they will be ok out on the job.
Get in touch with us today to schedule a free lone worker safety consultation