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Your safety culture is the core of your safety program, the engine that keeps it moving forward. That’s because a successful safety culture isn’t built around rules or equipment – it’s built around the people you’re trying to protect.
If you’re trying to build a manufacturing safety culture with true staying power, you need to place your people at the heart of your philosophy. Here are three key ways to do that.
As a safety professional, you know that communication is the single most effective tool in your arsenal. Communicate with your team, with management, and with your employees.
If you’re struggling to improve communication, the best place to start is a shift in mindset. Instead of communicating rules (i.e. communicating safety as a punishment) shift your mentality to focus on communicating with workers. Approach it as a dialogue, not a lecture.
Also, keep in mind that your workers are at the forefront of your safety efforts. If they don’t understand their role in safety, you cannot expect them to fulfill it. Focus on training workers to identify risks and clearly communicate what you expect workers to do if they see something wrong.
The next key ingredient is accountability. The trick is to apply it across the board.
Remember, safety is a collaborative effort, not a punishment. You can’t ask workers to uphold the rules and break them yourself – that tells workers that you’re not actually serious about safety.
When you apply safety rules, they apply to everyone, from the CEO to a first-day intern. Everyone faces the same punishment when they make a safety mistake. This shows employees that safety is a core value, not a PR stunt, and you’re willing to hold everyone accountable for their role in living up to that value.
This helps foster the most important element of your safety culture: engagement.
The reality is that without engagement across the board, your safety efforts are doomed from the start. Management needs to be fully engaged in order to get employees fully engaged.
On the management side, that means making time to attend every safety meeting and training – yes, even if you’re holding a safety meeting for every individual shift. It’s a sign of commitment to employees that you’re willing to make time for safety, even if it’s not convenient for you.
On the employee side, safety teams have to demonstrate a willingness to listen. Talk to employees like people and engage with them on a personal level. Show interest in their lives and their problems and listen when they talk. Then, when they do raise safety concerns, listen and take immediate action. This demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to follow through on your safety promises.
A great manufacturing safety culture begins and ends with commitment. If you’re not ready and willing to go the extra mile, your employees won’t do it either.
If you need more tips to help your whole organization get on board with safety, make sure to check out our blog for more great tips, like this post on how to strengthen your safety culture once you’ve built it.
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