Attitudes on health and safety in the workplace have come a long way from the days of child labour and factories riddled with hazards. Ever-tightening legislation continues to put more pressure on businesses to crack down on health and safety whilst well-being and good health have become important parts of our everyday lives. As a result, the number of accidents and fatalities continue to drop each year.
However, for many, there is the perception that health and safety has gone too far. There is an excess of ‘red tape’ and unnecessary control in the workplace. This attitude leads to cutting corners, resistance to new procedures and ultimately, dangerous behaviours in the workplace.
So, what can employers do to challenge and transform these views so that a safe environment can be maintained for all employees? We have compiled a few ideas on how you can transform negative attitudes in your workplace;
Hold workshops and training days
Promoting safety and educating staff is the first step in transforming health and safety attitudes. Some employees may become complacent simply because they do not fully understand the risks they face each day. By providing a space to identify and explore the risks, employees can better understand how they could be affected and why certain rules are in place.
By providing training on the policies and procedures that are in place, employees can make a better connection between the risks and why they are being asked to behave a certain way. An interactive environment will also provide a space for employees to voice any negative attitudes which can then be challenged and resolved by those leading the workshop.
Create a strong message
There often exists a view amongst employees that ‘an accident won’t happen to me’ and so safety measures are just a waste of time. Yet accidents can and do happen with often life-changing consequences.
Using real-life cases or getting people to come to the workplace to share their experiences, can be extremely effective in transforming such views. One such example of this is Jason Anker, founder of Proud2bSafe, who travels around the UK sharing his story to workforces following a life-changing fall he suffered at work. The injury from the fall left Jason paralysed from the waist down, changing the lives of him and his family forever.
Jason’s story is extremely powerful as it demonstrates the personal and physical impacts of the accident and how it affected his relationship with friends and family. Businesses continually comment on the strength of the message which has a very personal and long-lasting effect on those listening.
Create a positive safety culture
Creating a positive safety culture creates lasting behaviours in staff and co-operation in regards to health and safety rules. Just as negative attitudes spread, so can positive ones and a strong safety-focused culture will help the entire workforce to take safety seriously.
There are different methods you can take in creating a positive safety culture and what works for one company could be different to another. However, there are some simple tips that will help you get started;
- Management commitment
Managers should be present and demonstrate leadership when it comes to health and safety, displaying clear examples and training of how they are making safety a clear focus in the workplace.
- Employee involvement and ongoing communication
Actively including employees in risk assessments, workshops and discussions will give a sense of involvement and less feeling of rules being enforced on them. Creating active discussions will allow any concerns to be raised and solved in an open environment.
- Coach not instruct
Similarly, coaching and leading by example will help create a sense of involvement rather than enforcement. Adopt an encouraging and friendly tone and body language and focus on the benefits.
Reward positive behaviours
If you are struggling to get your workforce to demonstrate safe practices, a rewards or incentives program may be a good way to encourage positive health and safety behaviour.
You may choose to reward individuals, groups or the entire workforce – for a specific task such as participating in a safety survey, or for maintaining some kind of safety record.
Prizes and incentives are also down to preference and could vary from vouchers or physical gifts to rewards in the workplace such as a team lunch or afternoon drinks.
Transforming attitudes is a lengthy process that unfortunately, won’t happen overnight. However, the lasting impacts on your business are well worth the effort of getting employees on board with health and safety. Not only will you be able to meet your duty of care, but you will have created a positive, safe workplace which ultimately, leads to high well-being, productivity and commitment.
For more information on any of the above, check out some of our other blogs;
- Jason’s story: lessons learnt from an avoidable accident
- Creating a positive health and safety culture
- Common workplace safety misconceptions
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