“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.”
– Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb
Safety culture can be elusive. How do you convince employees to buy into safe conduct and take on a strong dedication to safety? Communication is key.
Here are 3 ways that communication can help you target safety culture.
Focus on the Why
People often need a better reason than “It’s the law” or “It’s risky” to convince them to follow safety rules. Safety consultant Regina McMichael recommends having a frank discussion about the real-world consequences of not following safety procedures with specific examples of those consequences. She adds that the most powerful way to persuade people to follow safety procedures is to show them that the rules exist because you care about keeping them safe.
Some companies view incident rates as the most important health and safety metric. Barton McMillin, VP and head of environmental health and safety at Ericsson North America, recommends moving beyond recording the accident and documenting metrics in detail: What equipment was involved? When was it last certified? What time of day was it? Where did the accident occur? How experienced was the employee? Who else was around? What else was happening on the worksite and in the immediate area? Talking to your team to gather info can help you spot patterns and prevent repeat occurrences.
Here’s a safety equation you want to remember. Safety leader Barton McMillin (aforementioned) describes a monthly protocol that keeps safety top of mind: 1) Look at how many people you have in your organization, 2) Subtract the number of people in your leadership team, 3) Divide the remaining number by the number of leaders. Every month, each leader is assigned a realistic number of employees to talk to 1:1 about safety. The conversation length and content is up to the individual, but they aim to cover 2 questions: “What is your primary workplace safety concern? How can the other leaders and I help with that?” These conversations encourage employees to consider their own and others’ safety and to feel more comfortable raising issues with leaders.