Many companies have developed safety plans but still struggle to close the gap between the program and the reality in the workplace. The key to bridging this gap and ensuring safety compliance is to develop leadership that prioritizes and models safety to the employees. In addition, leadership can ensure that employees remain current on safety training. Finally, leadership helps grow and reinforce a culture of safety when they “walk the walk” and show its importance with their actions.

Let’s look at how crucial your leadership can be to promoting safety and reducing risk in the workplace.

Leadership Commitment to Valuing Safety

Many industries are facing unprecedented competition and increasingly slim margins. As a result, some companies may knowingly or unknowingly move toward a focus on production that comes at the expense of safety. Leadership may even champion output to the extent that employees rush or cut corners to get the job done.

By neglecting the safety culture, an organization may see a significant rise in workplace injuries and damage to products or equipment. In addition, employees may begin to feel that the leadership does not care about their safety and well-being. While they may continue to perform at a high level in the short term, burnout will become increasingly likely. And when burnout becomes the norm, not only do organizations experience a high—and expensive turnover, they also end up paying the costs associated with increased injuries and damages. A positive safety culture begins with orienting leadership to value safety and no longer pressures employees to neglect safety for a perceived short-term production increase.

Creating Consistency and Managing Friction with Clear Communication

A company can work with an organization to develop a safety program, but implementing it will be ineffective if leadership does not remain consistent. The program should apply to everyone, from the newest employee to the enterprise level. Employees must see their management taking the program seriously to avoid a potential “us vs. them” situation.

In addition, sometimes doing things safely will mean that production must slow. And if there is not consistency across all departments and levels, then friction may occur. In the beginning, companies may experience some inconsistencies. As the company works through this, leadership is essential in managing this friction with clear and effective communication.

Allowing Two-Way Communication Benefits the Safety Process

One crucial aspect of driving safety that many companies overlook is allowing communication to flow both ways. Employees perform the daily tasks for the workplace processes and may have valuable feedback about how well a safety process is working. Leadership can facilitate two-way communication by providing ways for employees to communicate these vital issues.

Encouraging Employee Participation in the Safety Plan

Finally, leadership is instrumental in nurturing the safety culture by encouraging employee participation in the safety plan. Effective leadership helps employees feel supported and fosters a sense of ownership of their work and responsibilities. They should see how consistently applying the safety plan benefits them and their coworkers. A company’s leadership can make or break the safety culture, so getting leadership on board is critical.

To learn how your company can help leadership develop the essential skills for supporting your safety program, contact Interwest Insurance Services.

Valerie Albert
Author: Valerie Albert