Sometimes, the best way to motivate someone is through being a ‘cheerleader’. Anyone who supports an organised sport will agree. Now is your chance to do the same when it comes to implementing a health and safety culture in your workplace. The following tips will help you become your company’s health and safety advocate. (If you are an employer, how you promote good SHE principles and processes in your workplace will differ slightly from your behaviour as an employee. We’ve provided both options.)
As an employer
Establish open communication
A key component to maintaining employee trust is to encourage open communication on any and all health and safety issues you observe. You should also encourage employees to express their concerns or bring to light any issue they believe interferes with your company’s safety goals. Recruit and educate the best supervisors to encourage accessibility and interaction within each department. This will help prevent a fear of communicating with management.
Implement strict safety policies
Ideally, a workplace is completely hazard-free. But, when it comes to some trades, such as ground construction and mechanical engineering, these will always involve precarious work and unstable environments. Discourage employees who are not designated to work in certain high-risk positions from entering these hazardous zones, or attempting to carry out jobs they are not certified to complete.
Spread awareness by:
- labelling unsafe environments
- posting general warning signs
- referencing the qualifications needed to enter various regions of a worksite.
For corporate office environments that present less physical risk, identify all potential hazards early on and control minor dangerous mishaps, such as broken glass or plumbing leaks.
Promote health initiatives
You can do this by following these steps:
Step #1: Gain support from management.
Step #2: Review laws that apply to your worksites to ensure you are compliant.
Step #3: Work with workforce representatives to develop your health and safety programme.
Step #4: Invite a site visit from an occupational health expert to make health and safety recommendations (if required).
Step #5: Communicate your aims to all employees.
Step #6: Host in-house workshops/training sessions for workers, focused on preventing work-related illness and injury.
Step #7: Offer medical screenings.
Step #8: Establish a working group with clear terms of reference.
Step #9: Carry out a health-needs assessment with employees.
Step #10: Plan and implement initiatives in response to the health needs assessment findings.
Step #11: Evaluate the effectiveness of the initiatives.
Step #12: Integrate initiatives into the business’s regular management practices.
As an employee
Here, the best way to be a ‘cheerleader’ is to lead by example. When your colleagues see what you are able to achieve with best-practice SHE principles, they will be more likely to do the same. Here’s what to do:
- Work in a safe manner wearing your appropriate protective equipment.
- Know your rights under the OHS Act, as well as related acts (e.g. Labour Relations Act, COIDA, etc.).
- Form/join a health and safety committee, and communicate with its representatives about workplace concerns and issues.
- Bring to the attention of health and safety committees/employers/co-workers potential worksite hazards that need to be eliminated.
- Participate in medical screenings, trainings, workshops and other activities offered by employers or labour unions.
- Exercise your right to appropriate protective equipment (PPE), procedures and training and follow the policies and procedures necessary to prevent injury or illness.
- Distribute health and safety information to co-workers.
- Write a letter to a local newspaper/area legislator/policy maker describing in your own words why workplace health and safety is important.