Creating a safe workplace is a regulatory requirement for all industries and more for those where the health and safety risks to employees are higher due to the use of hazardous materials or other inherent dangers. Policy guidelines that promote employee well-being are one aspect of ensuring a safe workplace; another crucial need is creating a culture of safety where every employee is aware of and imbibes safety behavior.
Encouraging health and safety in the organization is beneficial for the employer too as businesses that put employee well-being first benefit from greater employee engagement, efficiency, and productivity, which lead to growth and improved brand reputation.
Often, though, safety measures remain on paper with safety leaders left as the sole warriors to uphold the principles. Successful creation of a safety culture requires all-around participation and the journey to achieving well-being goals is fraught with challenges
The five common challenges that safety leaders face include:
- Poor Employee Participation: Employees not conforming to rules and taking shortcuts is one of the biggest challenges that safety leaders need to worry about today. This could be due to a lack of understanding of why safe behavior is important for the employees themselves. Many times, there is a fear of being blamed or retaliation that may make them hesitant to report safety issues. They may also feel safety is someone else’s responsibility and prefer to remain silent. There may be a deeply ingrained mindset of accepting injuries as part of the job or associating safety with loss of productivity. Skepticism about being able to implement a safety culture may also lead to employees continuing with old ways of unsafe behavior.
- Changing Process and New Hazards: In this fast-changing world, safety leaders need to be able to manage changes to processes, anticipate new safety issues and create new preventive measures. This can be challenging especially in a manual safety management system that can make identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating risks difficult.
- Lack of Enterprise-wide Safety Data: Due to insufficient reporting, data on near-misses and observations are not available to the safety leader. This severely restricts the safety leader’s ability to be able to suggest and implement safety processes to prevent these near misses from blowing up into a full-fledged incident.
- Standardizing Safety Across Locations: A business with offices and worksites across geographies may find it difficult to ensure compliance and conformance to safety policies in the offsite locations due to poor oversight. Remote inspections may not be effective and with poor employee engagement, it could be a time-bomb ticking away.
- Compliance in an Ever-Changing Regulatory Environment: Regulatory requirements aim to improve workplace safety and are constantly evolving to ensure employee well-being as well as to make the processes easier for employers to implement. Safety leaders need to be aware of these changes, as they could be different for offices located in different geographies. They need to ensure compliance by changing the processes as required. This also means that employees need to be trained to meet the new needs and suppliers need to be on the same page. Managing and coordinating the new safety processes across the supply chain can be overwhelming for the safety leaders, while any slip-ups could lead to costs in the form of penalties, litigation, and reputation damage.
Proactively addressing these challenges
In a stringent environment, regulatory bodies expect employers to create a safe workplace. This expectation is shared by employees who are concerned about their own safety. They feel more involved when they see their employers care and their productivity improves as a result. Customers and other stakeholders also have a positive perception about businesses that put safety on par with quality and growth.
Safety leaders can therefore improve safety parameters and nurture a culture of safety by:
- Communicating the need for safety through consistent messaging, establishing accountability, incentivizing safe behavior
- Supporting it with training to reinforce safe behavior
- Making reporting easy and anonymous
- Enabling transparency in incident lifecycle management to encourage employees to report as they see action being taken on their reports
- Top management involvement is essential to encourage employees to take safety seriously
- Risk identification, prioritizing risks based on the level of severity and mitigating risks will help ensure a safe environment
- Creating a centralized risk register can help safety leaders identify patterns and strive for continuous improvement.
Automate and digitally transform your safety management workflow
Manual systems or safety management on legacy systems can add to the challenges faced by safety leaders. By automating with an EHS software solution — such as the one from ComplianceQuest — safety leaders can ensure the well-being of the employees with greater efficiency.
The ComplianceQuest EHS provides them with an enterprise-wide view of processes and data that can enable continuous improvement. It can help them standardize safety management across locations while empowering employees to report incidents, near misses, and observations anonymously as well as track progress from anywhere.
It can help with root cause analysis and initiate corrective and preventive action where needed. It can ensure training management, document management and also create a centralized register for identifying patterns and trends for continuous improvement. With OSHA enabling electronic submission of Forms 300 and 300A, a safety management system makes even reporting incidents simpler and more organized.
If you would like to improve the safety culture of your organization and become a employer safety hero, contact us now: https://www.compliancequest.com/ehs-for-employee-well-being/