There Are No Secrets in Safety, But There Are in ...

There are secrets in how to get your people to participate in the safety program.

There are no trade secrets in safety.

I have been saying that for years now in safety meetings, safety conference presentations and yes, even with my consulting clients. That’s because the rules are the same for every industry. No one company gets to perform better than another company because they have been handed a better, less restrictive set of rules to operate by. No, the playing field is level. The rules are the same across each industry.

So why do some companies find it so easy to get their guys to follow safety and others struggle? Why are some supervisors able to easily rally their crews around safety and other supervisors can’t seem to get their people to even wear their safety glasses? The quick answer is culture. But it is not the complete answer.

Culture is only part of the solution.

Culture sure has a lot to do with how you manage your people and the level of engagement and participation those people have in the safety program. And within the whole idea of safety culture are areas that need to shift in order to affect a change in the safety culture first at the crew level, then in a division or business unit and then, yes, throughout the rest of the company.

While it is true that there are no trade secrets in safety … there are secrets in how to get your people to participate in the safety program. I outlined a good portion of this topic in my book PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety.

First you start with management – and not just upper management. Senior management has almost no daily interaction with the people that you want to increase participation in safety: the people at the front line. That’s up to the supervisors, so they have got to be on-board or the whole thing falls apart.

Supervisors are pivotal.

Now, remember earlier I asked why some supervisors can bring their crews on-board safety easily while others struggle? The answer is in the capabilities and capacity of the supervisor. Those companies that invest in their front-line supervisors and give the skills, the tools, the mentoring and the motivation to connect with their crews, find it easier for their front-line crews to follow the safety program.

Front-line employees take their cues from their supervisors, not from senior management. People will follow the lead of their supervisor. If the supervisor is gung-ho for safety and truly wants the best for his or her very valued crew members, the crew culture will revolve around looking out for each other and caring for one another and doing their work as a team.

That’s a safety culture that doesn’t just meet the bare minimum of the safety code. They far surpass it.

Crew Culture is where the difference is made.

Buy a copy for each member of your team! A strong crew culture isn’t interested in just doing the bare minimum when it comes to keeping their fellow team members safe. They protect each other, and look out for each other, and stand up for each other and own a “not on my watch” attitude. That’s participation in the program but more importantly, it’s ownership of safety.

There may be no trade secrets in safety, but there sure are secrets, tactics, insights and strategies when it comes to building high-participation safety cultures.

Learn more strategies to create a high-participation safety culture. Put Kevin Burns' expertise to work in your organization. Whether it's for a one-day safety event or training/facilitation session, or perhaps Kevin's 90-Day Safety Accelerator program and the High-Participation Safety Culture Shift program. There is a program that can work for you, your front-line crews, your management team, your safety committee and your supervisors.

Kevin Burns is a management consultant, speaker/facilitator and author of PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety. He is an expert in how to engage people in safety and believes that the best place to work is always the safest place to work.

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