Back in junior high school, they made us take something called industrial arts, AKA shop class. They weren't going to turn a bunch of twelve-year-old kids loose on arc welders or grinders, but there was a shiny little jigsaw that we got to use.
Before we could even look at the thing, our teacher, Mr. Leatherwood, spread out his hand in front of the class and started yelling about safety while we all counted his fingers and noticed he was one short. He told a bloody tale about saw blades and paying attention to your work and waved that hand at us to prove his point. It was unsettling, but effective. The whole lot of us made it through 7th grade with all of our fingers. That’s one way to improve workplace safety, but let’s talk about a few that are less extreme.
Make Identifying Safety Risks Everyone’s Responsibility
In order to provide a safe environment for your employees, customers and guests, everyone must work together to identify opportunities to improve safety. Front line employees are often in the very best position to recognize risks and suggest solutions. Unfortunately, though, in many companies, these employees are not empowered to act and do not feel it is their place to question management decisions. Changing this mindset is the first step to improved safety.
Make Reporting Risks Easy
Once you’ve extended the authority and responsibility to report hazards to every employee, you need to give them an easy way to identify, document and report the problem. Ideally, the solution would be available on mobile devices so that issues can be reported immediately from anywhere. It should be easy to use, yet sophisticated enough to capture the details of each opportunity for improvement. Employees should be able to add supporting documentation or photos that will help in the resolution of safety issues.
Structure the Process for Risk Resolution
Once a safety risk is identified, there needs to be a specific process in place to address the problem. Automated workflows, with notifications and alerts, should be used to make sure that each risk is assessed and that a solution is approved and implemented. A business management technology that supports this process can also be used to document the process and measure the impact of changes.
Recognize and Reward Employees who Help Reduce Risk
As I said earlier, front line employees are your best weapon for improving safety. It is important to recognize and reward those who identify problems and work to solve them. Choose a business management solution that makes it easy to see who has offered the most opportunities for improvement and who has managed, worked on or contributed to each positive change.
Providing a safe environment for every person who comes in contact with your business is a fundamental responsibility, but you can’t do it alone. Using these techniques will help enlist everyone in the cause and make resolving safety issues a smooth and painless process. When it comes to safety, hindsight is just too expensive.