Workplace safety is of vital importance: it increases the efficiency of ongoing operations, manages risk, optimizes control systems, streamlines processes, enhances the employer brand, creates trust, and ultimately helps to prevent injuries and accidental deaths.
In fact, a recent SmartMarket Report states that an improved safety culture decreases reportable injuries by 10%, increases the ability to contract new work by 10%, and increases the ability to retain staff by 18%.
Especially now, in the time of coronavirus, a workplace with a well-planned safety program is not only beneficial to employees and their experience in the workplace, but also to a company's bottom line.
Creating a Healthy Safety Culture
As published by the Health and Safety Commission, a safety culture is “the product of people's values and beliefs, their behavior and their commitment to your health and safety programs.”
But how does this concept reveal itself in our daily working lives? Safety culture is the group effort of an organization to keep and maintain safety and prevent injuries on a day-to-day basis. This includes measures taken, the involvement of your employees, the communication concerning safety, and the degree of importance that it is given within an organization.
Safety culture shows itself in the trust that people bring toward each other, as well as in the processes that follow incidents, the tools provided to employees, and even how crisis management is handled.
The responsibility to uphold and drive this culture has become an integral part of management functions, but it must be cultivated by every single employee. While the C-level is responsible for setting a framework and providing the tools needed, employees are responsible for implementing the processes and using the measures available.
Creating a strong safety culture is therefore an ongoing process that involves everybody.
The Importance of Safety at Work
The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US department of labor), has identified eight tips for companies to get started on creating an efficient safety culture:
- Define safety responsibilities: Do this for each level within your organization. This should include policies, goals, and plans for the safety culture.
- Share your safety vision: Everyone should be in the same boat when establishing goals and objectives for their safety culture.
- Enforce accountability: Create a process that holds everyone accountable for being visibly involved, especially managers and supervisors. They are the leaders who promote positive change.
- Provide multiple options: Provide different options for employees to bring their concerns or issues forward. There should be a chain of commands to ensure that supervisors are held accountable for being responsive.
- Report, report, report: Educate employees on the importance of reporting injuries, first aids, and near misses. Prepare for an increase in incidents if currently there is under-reporting. It will eventually level out.
- Rebuild the investigation system: Evaluating the incident investigation system is critical to making sure investigations are conducted in an effective manner. This should help you identify the primary causes of accidents and incidents.
- Build trust: When things start to change in the workplace, it's important to keep the boat from rocking. Building trust will help everyone work together to see improvements.
- Celebrate success: Make your efforts public to keep everyone motivated and updated throughout the process.
In poor safety cultures, only 60% of workers are willing to report unsafe conditions in the workplace, compared to 95% in organizations with an excellent safety culture.
Successful change requires regular, facility-wide communication about health and safety topics. An internal safety communication process increases awareness of such topics and transfers knowledge that empowers your people to be successful.
An employee app is an effective way of supporting a broad range of safety related activities and can serve as the communication backbone of your safety culture program.
Top 10 Safety Related Use Cases of an Employee App
1. Share your company’s safety vision and show that the issue is important to management
When it comes to safety culture, everyone should act in concert concerning goals and objectives. This means that although leaders should communicate their commitment to safety through their actions, every employee should be empowered to take part in the safety culture. It’s especially engaging to award prizes for strong safety initiatives.
Format: written or video interviews; pictures or video of safety related actions like site visits; review meetings or external audits.
2. Make emergency contacts easy to find
Your safety process should be split into clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Assign these tasks and make it easy for everyone to find the right contact person in case of emergencies and safety incidents.
3. Share site- or team-specific safety messages
Share you local safety vision, local key policies, goals and measures—and target content in order to limit the information employees receive and show them what's currently relevant to them. An advanced employee app like Staffbase will allow you to define user groups and provide them with relevant content.
4. Share safety awareness trainings
Make time for the things that matter—all employees throughout the organization should be working to create and spread knowledge regarding health and safety topics. Use an employee app to share one- to five-minute long video-based trainings or visual tutorials to turn awareness about safety into a short weekly or even daily habit.
5. Encourage the reporting of safety issues
Do your employees report mistakes to you or do they stay quiet about them? Are they scared of being punished for mistakes? Use the stories of other employees from all levels of your organization to show how they came forward and reported safety concerns. Employees should never be scared to report issues or mistakes but should instead be rewarded for their honesty and for helping to ensure safety. Making this clear is important for your general company culture, too!
6. Measure safety performance and continually communicate results
Publicizing results is very important for sustaining efforts and for keeping everyone motivated. Everyone needs to be updated throughout the process. Share your site's safety KPI’s, report incidents, and show lessons learned.
7. Report opportunities for safety improvements
Successful organizations address issues before they can lead to injuries or expensive damages. This means that preventive measures should be taken in order to keep mistakes from happening in the first place. Give your employees an easy way to report potential safety issues—including the ability to take and send photos directly with a smartphone camera.
8. Gamification—make safety fun
Use games like a "safety question of the day" to remind employees about safety topics and to keep them engaged. A simple question is a great way to address problems and attract interest. Celebrate winners and offer cool awards.
9. Report safety incidents
Educate employees about the importance of reporting injuries, first aids, and near misses. Transparency and integrity are extremely important for ensuring a flourishing safety culture. As noted, an employee app can make the process of reporting safety incidents easy and effective.
10. Celebrate safety successes
To keep everyone motivated and updated throughout the process, make your efforts public. Positive safety behaviors should be rewarded, and rewards should be designed to motivate ongoing health and safety practices. An employee app is a great way to spread the word about the importance of safety in the workplace.
How Staffbase customers managed the coronavirus crisis with an employee app
- Sending push notifications for crucial, time-sensitive announcements
- Creating trusted global and regional news feeds
- Sharing public information from relevant sources (the World Health Organization, government agencies, etc.)
- Building directories of important emergency contacts
- Informing employees about proper hygienic practices
- Providing dedicated pages where crucial information can be found
- Sharing internal guidelines on national and international travel
- Activating an acknowledgement function to ensure important information gets read
- Localizing specific messaging to targeted groups
- Providing structured feedback channels
- Distributing forms for submitting employee questions
- Opening article publishing for both top-down and peer-to-peer information sharing
- Posting videos and photographs showing useful tips for productively working from home
- Sharing FAQs to free communicators from time-consuming emails and phone calls
- Publishing protocols for when and how to report to a medical point person in the event of illness
If you'd like additional information on how to digitize your employee communication, find it here: