Safety is often referred to as a priority, not as a value. Priorities change in response to situational demands. When safety is a basic value, it becomes a natural way of performing a job instead of being a ‘priority’.
When we tell employees that safety is a priority and present them with all the rules, policies, and procedures we have put in place and then threaten them with write-ups, suspensions, and/or termination for ignoring said rules, policies, and procedures, we create an atmosphere of “we are the boss and you will do as we say”.
Getting employees to make safety be a value to them takes some work but it can be done if presented in a different way than as a threat. A different approach could be to make safety a personal issue. We need to get inside their heads. Stop saying: “I will write you up if I see you giving someone a ride on your forklift”. Instead, explain to that operator the person they are putting in danger is someone’s son or daughter, or that person has a 2-year-old child at home who wants to see mom or dad come home every day.
By making safety a core value, making it personal, and then practicing what we preach, we can make safety a positive issue instead of a negative one.
There are some good videos on this topic in RS SafetyTV.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].