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Motivating Employees is Key to Successful Safety Program

By Gary W. Hanson, President of American Safety and Health Management Consultants, Inc.

One of the most important aspects of any safety program is developing the proper attitude toward safety. Attitude greatly influences behavior, and safe work behavior is the most critical factor to a successful safety program. Changing employee safety behavior is a difficult task.

To change attitude, employees must be motivated to desire change. The following guidelines can assist employers in motivating employees to participate in a safety program:

* Lead by Example Employees observe supervisors' behavior and, consequently, supervisors must set a good example. Nothing irritates employees more than rules applied selectively.
* Set High Safety Standards and Goals Companies with successful safety programs always set their standards and expectations high and work hard to achieve them. Hold supervisors and employees accountable for safety performance with the same intensity as production, sales, quality and other important management functions.
* Get Employees Involved in the Process Ask employees for suggestions, ideas and opinions concerning the safety program.
Follow up on these and incorporate their ideas.

* Do Not Blame Employees for Accidents Remember accidents are usually caused by more than one factor. Identify all reasons and then correct their causes. If employee behavior is one of the causes, this should be addressed in a positive manner.
* Provide Proper Tools and Equipment Providing employees with the proper tools and equipment show employees that the company is serious about their safety.
* Provide a Safe Work Environment Check work areas frequently and take actions to correct unsafe conditions. Stress proper housekeeping at all times.
* Provide Proper and Adequate Safety Training Proper safety training is a critical aspect of a successful safety program. The goal of safety training should not only be to convey necessary work knowledge, but also to develop the proper attitude towards safety and establish safe work practices.
* Reward and Recognize People like to be rewarded and recognized. Establish safety goals with input from your employees and a method to reward and recognize positive behavior.
* Do Not Quit Often companies implement an effective safety program by involving employees and establishing a rewards system. However, after the company is successful in reducing accidents, intensity decreases. Keep the program alive and continue to keep the employees involved and excited.

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