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Turn Safety Month into Every Month

June is National Safety Month and across the country employers are planning stand-downs, pizza lunches and safety slogan contests. It’s a great opportunity to recognize safe behavior and remind employees of the need to protect themselves and their co-workers. Established in 1996, safety month is widely observed in manufacturing, construction, healthcare and other industries. This year, a focus area will be highlighted for each of the four weeks in the month—emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving.

We’ve uncovered some innovative ways National Safety Month is being observed. Braun Intertec, a Minnesota-based engineering firm, promotes a “first move forward” initiative to avoid vehicle accidents related to reversing out of a parking spot. The company encourages employees to improve visibility by parking (backing into a spot or pulling forward) so that the first move they make is forward, facing traffic.

Other ideas we like:

  • Hold a PPE fit day. Set up fitting stations for personal protective equipment to assure that gloves, hardhats, clothing and other gear fits correctly, which is essential to its effectiveness.
  • Challenge teams to a risk identification competition. Ask them to identify the most hazards in an image or video. Reward the winners with a safety-oriented prize like stylish safety sunglasses.
  • Review safety policies that haven’t been looked at recently with a group that includes representatives of management and affected employees.
  • Invite local first responders in to become familiar with your facility. That way, they’ll know your processes and hazards in case they’re called in to respond to an emergency.

Don’t Let the Light Go Out

Employers agree that shining the spotlight on safety for a focused period—a day, a week or a month—can increase awareness about the need to follow protocols and avoid shortcuts. But what happens when the spotlight is off and everyone returns to regularly schedule programming?

What would it take to extend the benefits of National Safety Month to the other 11 months of the year? The answer is safety culture. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Culture refers to factors that influence overall attitudes and behavior.” It’s a backdrop that defines expectations about how work is performed—not just some days, but every day. Elements include leadership and management style, institutional missions and goals, and organization of work processes.

Culture is not a program or campaign. It’s a state of mind—an informed way of behaving that permeates the work environment and is reflected in awareness and accountability for safety by everyone in the organization.

In 1921, pioneering industrial psychologist Walter Dill Scott said, “The future of the safety movement is not so much dependent upon the invention of safety devices as on the improvement of methods of educating people to the ideal of caution and safety.” Nearly a century later we call that safety culture!

There’s no secret sauce, no magic formula that yields safety culture. It’s the result of an ongoing effort to educate and motivate workers to reduce risk because they know the benefits of doing so, and understand what’s at stake if they don’t.

Change Habits. Save Lives.

Individual habits are the building blocks of safety culture. Habits like:

  • Prompt reporting of hazards.
  • Shutting down a process if an employee feels it is unsafe.
  • Consistently using tools such as job hazard analyses and checklists.
  • Participating in emergency response drills to ensure understanding of roles and expectations.

Like any habits, those relating to safety must be reinforced in order to become consistent and lead to changes in behavior. One of the best ways to do this is by shoring up traditional training with highly focused, bite-sized reminders. At IMPROV® Learning we’ve built a comprehensive library of high-impact microlearning video segments and an easy-to-use learning retention platform to manage and track their use.

The entire system is called RecallBOOST and it’s based on principles proven to help businesses prevent fatalities and incidents, and save money, by delivering relevant content in short, memorable bursts and then requesting the information be recalled later at set intervals.

Why limit yourself to a single month when you can boost safety every day of the year? Contact IMPROV® Learning today to learn more about the link between safety culture and microlearning. And Happy National Safety Month!