Know WHERE YOU ARE and Decide WHERE YOU WANT TO BE…
Changes in economic and business development are always more effective when well planned, researched and executed with vision. Likewise, Occupational Health and Safety improvements should be well defined, justified and executed with a thorough understanding of the desired outcome. Most small to medium sized businesses in Canada make changes to their OH&S programs often as a result of reactions to negative stimulus (accidents, audits, compliance orders etc.). It would be ideal if all companies had time to properly plan and execute OH&S changes when necessary, unfortunately not many business owners have experience prioritising injury prevention initiatives and profits simultaneously, especially under duress.
In order to effectively develop, communicate and implement workplace safety goals, you first need to gain an understanding of where your OH&S gaps exist. An OH&S development project team should be put together, comprising of senior management, supervisors and workers to review any existing past or current internal/external audits.
If reports are not available, you may choose to either perform an audit of your safety program or hire a consultant to perform the audit for you. Being able to look back at past and current safety performance indicators including program compliance, injury statistics and WSIB costs together, should paint a reasonably accurate picture of what is working and what needs improvement in your OH&S program.
Define Present Culture
Many employers that acknowledge they need to invest in injury prevention initiatives make the mistake of assuming their is no “Safety Culture” in their business. The truth is every company has a safety culture, unfortunately many do not have the type of positive safety culture that they desire. Understanding and moulding the culture inside your business is the foundation for defining who you want to become outside your business, in the community and to your customers. Therefore, in order to make effective and long term changes to workplace safety, your business needs to foster a positive climate for growth and stability as well as promote an engaging, transparent and supportive OH&S culture. Conducting a perception survey is a popular way to discover and measure what your people think of your H&S initiatives and culture.
Conduct a Perception Survey
A safety perception survey in an anonymous employee questionnaire that sheds an important light on the realities of working in your business environment and the perceptions workers and managers have about the level of safety on the job. They can set an important baseline for improvements and should be customized for every business.
The questions included in your survey will help broaden your understanding of how safety works in your business. Take into account your industry, types of hazards encountered by workers, what elements of an OH&S program exist already, and the types of management styles that dominate your work environment. You can use these results to prioritise improvements and to help facilitate an engaging process of OH&S changes.
Consider the following before you start:
-Provide an orientation to the survey before implentation. Explain Who, What, When, How and Why
-Convey that employee feedback is important to managements commitment to improving safety
-Be prepared to hear unpopular opinions
Set Goals and Define Your Desired Culture
After you have done your analysis including both hard safety factors (inspections/audits/documents etc.) and the soft safety factors (perception/engagement/culture), you can begin to set goals and decide what legacy in safety your organization wants to cultivate. Ask the project team important questions like; Are your employees worth going above and beyond to protect? Does your business want to attract a positive public safety perception from customers, contractors and competitors? Will you need to be a safety leader in order to keep growing or will simply meeting compliance and maintaining the “status quo” get you where you want to be?
Start by identifying simple goals that are easy to achieve. Make a big deal when you reach predetermined milestones. Gain momentum and tackle the most difficult improvements only after a track record of smaller successes. Setting the right climate to meet your objectives is the most critical step once you have defined your preferred future safety culture.
Once your organization understands where you are and where you want to be ; you can begin planning and prioritizing the next step in your Workplace Safety Revolution.
Doug Crann, Founder & President
Workplace Safety Revolution