Engage and Lead for an Effective Safety Program

Spring conference presenters say relationships are the key

Does the mention of a safety presentation make your team’s eyes glaze over? Does a mandatory safety workshop consist of signing in and watching a video, just to check it off a list?

If the answer is yes to either question, you might need a new approach to your safety program.

Workplace safety experts offered ideas and perspectives at the 2018 Health Services to Business spring conference, “Leading the Way: Trends and Transformations in Workplace Health and Safety.”

Brian Langenhorst, an ergonomic specialist with Mayo Clinic Health System, believes that the key to successfully engaging employees begins with the concept of “servant leadership.” In most workplaces, he said, the focus is on complying with safety procedures. But servant leadership helps move the effort forward by encouraging employees to be part of the process. When employees have a role in creating best practices, they feel a sense of ownership and are more likely to make an effort to make those practices second nature, or “consciously unconscious.”

Langenhorst noted five steps which he referred to as a “behavioral change stairway” that lead to lasting change:

  1. Active listening: listen to your employees and let them know you are listening
  2. Empathy: you have an understanding of where they are coming from and how they feel
  3. Rapport: when they understand you have empathy you’ve developed a rapport
  4. Influence: you’ve established trust and can now move on to problem solving and recommend a course of action
  5. Behavioral change: the desired change is made

The Language of Safety

Presenter Michael Melnik, owner of Prevention Plus, has been called upon by some of the largest companies in the country to deliver his message of “Moving from Knowing to Doing.”

Melnik emphasized the importance of building a relationship with employees and using that personal connection to influence behavior. Making “mandatory” safety rules doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be followed. It’s up to companies to prove their commitment to safety and that they care about the well-being of their employees. Creating a safe workplace doesn’t mean catching people doing something wrong, but rewarding and reinforcing safe behaviors, he noted.

Because people are more likely to act on how they feel rather than what they know, Melnik uses an “energized approach” to safety which is based on:

  • Commitment
  • Consistency
  • Communication
  • Accountability
  • Respect
  • Recognition
  • Inclusion
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Fun

Employers must make it their top priority to send people home safety at the end of the day. Once that is established, said Melnik, the other reasons for having safety programs such as accident reduction, compliance, cost savings and protection of assets will occur naturally.

For more information on developing a safety program that engages employees, call Health Services to Business at 877-458-4873.

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