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Safety Leadership in the Workplace: Best Practices to Protect Your Employees from Themselves

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Workplace safety may start at the top, but it must be a joint effort to be effective. One of the most challenging aspects, however, is ensuring employees are actively engaging in that effort. Even though employees have a lot to gain and the most to lose from workplace safety, it can be something that falls to the wayside. A number of best practices can keep workplace safety a priority while prompting meaningful engagement from employees.

Involve Workers in Safety Planning

Employees are more apt to actively participate in safety practices in the workplace if they have a hand in creating them. Giving employees a voice in your safety planning not only empowers them to take ownership in the practices you establish, but it likewise provides them with a thorough understanding of the practices and the ability to more easily sustain them over time.

You’ll also gain valuable insight about job site hazards that may have otherwise been overlooked or left unaddressed.

Encourage Employee Participation

In addition to getting workers involved in safety planning, you want to encourage ongoing participation in maintaining workplace safety standards. Providing positive reinforcement to those who participate is a must, as is ensuring employees have adequate time and necessary resources to contribute to workplace safety efforts.

Make it easy and convenient for employees to report workplace safety concerns, including unsafe conditions, new hazards that arise, close calls and incidents. Establish a method of anonymous reporting if employees may fear retaliation for reporting an incident or concern. Hold regular safety meetings during work hours that employees from all levels of your company can attend.

Provide Necessary Resources and Training

Safety training needs to be part of the onboarding process for every new employee, with retraining on updated procedures available for all employees as needed. Schedule training sessions during work hours to ensure full participation. Include the cost of training into job estimates if necessary.

Resources can range from essential safety equipment and supplies to signage and safety data sheets. Make sure all employees have access to the resources as part of their jobs, providing no excuse for lack of equipment, supplies or knowledge.

Expect Performance

Establish a frontline safety person for each team of workers, making that person responsible for leading and monitoring the safety efforts of the team. Monitor how employees perform their work, keeping an eye out for those that may take risky shortcuts as well as those who adhere to best safety practices. Call attention to the latter, encouraging other employees to adopt those same practices.

One more tip is to ensure you adopt best safety practices yourself, leading by example. As a leader, your actions are going to speak louder than any signage or safety data sheet ever could. It’s also one more way to ensure employees continue to participate in and contribute to your overall culture of safety in the workplace.