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5 Questions to A Foundational Safety Message

Posted by Kevin Burns on Apr 8, 2021 11:15:00 AM

I ran across another book recently that, on the back cover, suggested that the point of safety was to send people home in the same condition as when they arrived. I shuddered.

Someone muttered that awful send them home safe phrase once and someone else must have thought it was clever. So, they borrowed it and then repeated it to someone else. And that someone must have picked it up and run with it until they had the chance to say it again. Now it's everywhere. And it means nothing.

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Employees Are Unclear on Safety Goals

Posted by Kevin Burns on Mar 24, 2021 1:30:00 PM

Before you assume that your team is slipping into safety complacency, you need to determine whether complacency is really the problem. It may not be.

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Why Safety Messaging Matters

Posted by Kevin Burns on Mar 11, 2021 1:15:00 PM

When employees actively support and participate in safety, they have accepted safety as their way to work. Without the employees’ willingness to support and participate in the safety program, the company's default position becomes things like rules-enforcement. When a workplace is centered around enforcing rules, people become more reluctant to go to work. Morale suffers and you lose your good people.

You’ve probably been frustrated in getting buy-in from your front-line employees. Maybe you’ve gathered your team in a room for a safety event or stand-down. You showed them “safety” videos (I use quotation marks because I’ll bet most of those videos focused on injury, not safety). You instructed them in things like ladder use, handwashing, or lock-out tag-outs.

As much as you think it went well during the stand-down, it didn’t stick. That’s because your stand-down safety event didn’t actually get buy-in.

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Focus on The Safety of Your Crew

Posted by Kevin Burns on Feb 10, 2021 12:15:00 PM

In a supervisory coaching session this week, one of the participants remarked about the cold February temperatures rolling across their region of the country. By the end of the conversation, he suggested that they simply bundle up and go out to do their work. And they take warm-up breaks more often.

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Are Expectations More Effective Than Safety Rules?

Posted by Kevin Burns on Feb 3, 2021 12:15:00 PM

Employers, managers and supervisors who do not set clear expectations for their teams are already at a disadvantage. Without a set of clear expectations, you can expect your people to fumble around trying to figure out what’s important to their employers. When people are fumbling to figure out what is important, safety is going to falter.

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Leadership Skills Are Needed to Improve Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jan 27, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Why is it that one company can struggle with safety performance while another company, in the same industry, easily excels at safety performance? The answer is in what happens on the ground – with front-line supervisory.

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3 Strategies for A More Effective Safety Program

Posted by Kevin Burns on Jan 13, 2021 1:15:00 PM

When good employees take pride in their work, they protect that pride by engaging in safety.

Without getting into long descriptions, good workplace safety culture is the result of attitudes and personal and corporate values aligning. If apathy in the workplace exists, little care will be given to safety.

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What Is Safety Buy-in? And Why It’s Important.

Posted by Kevin Burns on Dec 2, 2020 1:56:06 PM

In safety, there are no trade secrets. That’s because the rules are the same in each industry. No one company gets an advantage over another because of safety regulations. No company is handed a better, less restrictive set of rules to operate by. 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 employees to follow safety protocols and other companies struggle? Why are some supervisors able to more easily rally their crews around safety and other supervisors can’t seem to get their people to even wear their safety glasses?

The answer is buy-in.

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The One Strategy to Supervisor Success in Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Nov 25, 2020 1:12:57 PM

My first paid job was as a 12-year-old salesman on a Dickie Dee ice cream bicycle. I worked on commission with no hourly wage. In 1973, popsicles cost a nickel and ice cream drumsticks were a quarter. The ice cream bike was a single speed, 3-wheeler that weighed 600 pounds fully loaded, and my route was a hilly, blue-collar town in Renfrew, Ontario.

Like most families in Renfrew, mine didn’t have much money. My dad was an office manager at a tire shop and my mom was an elementary school teacher. I was working to save up for a 10-speed bike that cost $125.

I quickly learned what time workers at the local factories took their breaks. Most of them had no air conditioning, so a frozen treat always hit the spot.

I noticed the camaraderie those factory workers shared. It wasn’t uncommon for one guy to step up and say, “We’ve got five guys here, so it’s five cones on me.” It seemed to me that whatever they were doing, they were in it together.

The following year I worked part time in a golf course pro shop. My boss, the golf pro, was an intense manager who was insistent on routines, procedures, and presentation. Everything had to be done just so, no surprises.

Then as a young teenager, I worked at our small town’s first radio station. I emptied trash cans and helped out wherever I could. I learned that the best announcers were the ones who connected with their audiences on a personal level.

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The job started me on an 18-year career in broadcasting doing jobs from sales rep to on-air announcer (11 years as a morning-man) to supervisory and management positions.

Through all of those early jobs, I found that one thing trumped everything else— and that one thing was relationships.

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Top 3 Areas To Influence Safety

Posted by Kevin Burns on Nov 18, 2020 1:15:00 PM

The frontlines are where the largest numbers of employees gather each day. It’s where the greatest number of supervisors do their jobs, where the greatest amount of activity is. It’s where the most problems happen and where the largest numbers of safety incidents occur.

At the frontline is where the morale and reputation of the organization is created and upheld. It’s at the frontline where effective supervisory skills, clear communications, and employee buy-in to safety are needed most.

Companies are spending too much time and too much money with inconsistent and ineffective communications trying to engage their employees and supervisors in taking ownership of the safety program.

When faced with issues like lack of employee and supervisory buy-in to safety, the conventional approach is to double-down on safety rules and process enforcement. But you don't fix recurring safety issues by piling on more safety.

Instead, what is needed are new innovations and approaches to build employee and supervisory ownership of safety. And, you to do that you must clarify your safety communications and messaging.

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