Promoting a strong health and safety (H&S) culture is incredibly important if you want to boost productivity as well as the well being of your employees.
The relationship between health and safety and productivity is a sensitive one. You want your employees to be as productive as they can be, but also carry out their work in a safe and comfortable manner.
H&S culture broadly refers to ‘how we do things around here’. A poor H&S culture leads to an environment where not complying with safe practice is acceptable. This is not how businesses will want to operate. You want your health and safety culture to be a positive one, a culture where not complying to safety regulations is frowned upon.
So if you’re a health and safety manager or are H&S responsible; how do you go about making sure that your safety culture is strong and resilient, while encouraging productivity?
6 ways to boost your health and safety culture
- Set clear rules and stick to them
Productive employees are often the by-product of happy and safe employees. Having a strong health and safety culture implies that you mean business, and that you’re putting your people over profit. This is powerful, and often encouraging for the individual employee as they know they’ve got a safe network behind them.
- Form a H&S board
Make sure that you’ve got a H&S board consisting of personnel of different levels of seniority and varying relevant different roles within the organisation. The HR manager, the CEO, the maintenance technician, the janitor and the scientist all have different concerns about health and safety and you need to hear all of them.
- Communicate the importance of health and safety from the top down
Do everything in your power to show your employees that your organisation really prioritises H&S. Ensure that there is a two-way channel of communication regarding health and safety between floor personnel and reporting managers. There needs to be an honest dialogue between employees and management. When you can ensure the safety and well being of your employees, they can do their best work.
- Establish training procedures for new employees
New employees usually start with a ‘can do’ attitude and have not yet acquired any bad habits. Make sure new employees are properly introduced to ‘how we do things around here’ by providing training and information on safety policies, procedures and programs. Ensure, that they know that there’s a strong support network, a network that actively welcomes suggestions and questions, should they have any concerns or comments
Culture takes time, and changing a culture for the better can be notoriously tricky. New employees can make this change a little easier. They’ve not got the attitude of ‘I’ve been in the company for 25 years, and that’s the way it’s always been’.
- Introduce a H&S notice board
A health and safety notice board can be one of the simplest yet effective ways to improve workplace safety culture. Split it into news/thoughts/feedback and whatever else you think should be on there. This initiative re-enforces the fact that an organisation takes health and safety seriously, and that they care about the opinions and welfare of their employees.
Make sure that you recognise safe behaviour. Positive reinforcement is important in building safe habits. Add some success stories or best practice examples on the wall to your health and safety notice board to affirm recognition.
- Schedule regular talks and discussions
The more you hear something the more likely you are to remember it. Introduce toolbox talks and have regular short health and safety discussions. A toolbox talk is a short informal discussion about a specific health and safety topic. Sending the whole staff on a extended health and safety course is both expensive and time consuming. Toolbox talks are effective, inexpensive, and ensure that health and safety is as the forefront of everyone’s mind.
There are of course countless ways in which you can encourage and practise excellent health and safety. These six tips are only meant to push you a little out of your comfort zone and to inspire you to come up with your own unique approach to health and safety.
While the relationship between productivity and health and safety can sometimes be perceived as a blurred line when you’re talking numbers and hours, it shouldn’t be. It’s black and white; people before profit. When your employees are safe and happy, they can do their job well!
About Safety Training Scotland
Since Safety Training Scotland was founded in 2013, it has delivered courses to over 2000 successful delegates. Training everyone from young people starting their careers to CEO’s, Safety Training Scotland has grown a well known reputation and large clientele in a short period of time. We’re passionate about changing the negative perception of health and safety training. Our highest priority is not just to inform, but also to engage and inspire. We are transforming the safety training industry and putting an end to ‘death by powerpoint’.