Workforce engagement helps us to go above and beyond the minimum standard of safety. Involving employees in safety whenever there is the opportunity can add significant insight into safety at your organization.
Employees work on the frontline closest to the real and potential hazards. You can create an abundance of policies and procedures to ensure a safe working environment, but without engaging the workforce in the process and gleaning their perspective, it will not be enough.
In addition to offering a new insight, involving employees in safety also encourages their ownership of safety in the organization. This includes the creation of new safety rules or procedures and purchasing safety equipment and PPE.
When employees feel ownership and autonomy within their work, they will generally feel more engaged and also are more likely to engage in proactive behaviours to work safely and remind others to work safely.
Engaging the workforce in safety can take time. If employees are resistant, it may be due to poor experiences of past safety involvement. It is important to be open and receptive to employees when they bring up safety concerns/ideas or want to be involved in a safety initiative.
Workforce engagement needs to be encouraged by the leadership team to be effective. Culture change starts with leaders.
ENGAGING YOUR WORKFORCE:
Encourage employees to ask questions and share concerns about safety through multiple methods (one-on-one conversations, in working groups, town halls, morning meetings, etc).
Be open and receptive when employees talk about safety (& follow up with feedback when an employee comes to you with an issue).
Give employees plenty of opportunities to get involved in safety (it could be coaching new employees, helping to develop new safety policies, finding solutions for safety hazards, etc).
Ask for employee input before making safety decisions (employees face safety hazards everyday and have valuable knowledge to share).