The best safety managers live and breathe health and safety, and their passion shows through their interactions with employees. Buy-in from workers and management are necessary for a successful safety program, along with open communication and training.
Successful safety managers help build support, keep employees engaged, and provide valuable information. They act as a bridge between employees and management, providing oversight and expertise. Safety managers should develop habits that keep them informed of issues in the field and the goals of management. They also should encourage employees to express their concerns and provide proper safety training for employees at all levels.
A great safety manager listens to concerns and suggestions from everyone, no matter what level they are.
Encourage Worker Participation
A great safety manager listens to concerns and suggestions from everyone, no matter what level they are. Field workers may have ideas on how to mitigate or eliminate a risk that eludes others. Managers should praise workers for identifying risks and coming up with ideas to deal with them.
What’s more, workers should also be involved in the design and implementation of safety programs. This helps create a feeling of buy-in that is necessary for a successful implementation of any program.
Communicate Openly and Often
Managers should be talking to employees regularly about the company safety plan and its objectives so everyone knows what the program entails. They also need to ensure employees have the information required to work safely. This includes safety data sheets, monitoring reports, safety procedures, emergency contact numbers, etc.
Meanwhile, contractors need to make sure they are communicating clearly with other companies onsite, including general contractors, subcontractors, and staffing agencies. It is critical that all employees on a jobsite are following the same procedures and safety requirements, such as PPE.
Make Safety a Company Priority
First, safety and health do have to be a priority. Managers can show this by visiting jobsites regularly, talking with employees, and adding the rest of these habits to your routine. The company can further show the importance of safety by including it in project schedules and budgets, overall company budgets, and making it a part of every business decision. Transparency and open communication will help to achieve this.
This means providing the necessary resources to implement the safety plan. Like time, money, equipment and training. Including all these in the overall company and/or project budget or schedule shows a commitment from the company.
Providing training for workers at all levels is essential. All employees should be trained in basic safety topics, such as proper safety procedures, PPE, and identifying potential hazards. They should also know the safety plan objectives and processes. Leaders should have additional training in job hazard analysis, incident investigation, and other topics dependant on their position. They should also keep up to date on the latest safety regulations and requirements.
It’s also just as important to lead by example. Wear proper PPE when visiting a jobsite and follow all company policies and procedures. Nothing erodes trust like seeing a manager not following the very procedures that he or she requires of others.
Regularly Revisit and Revise Safety Plan
Review safety indicators, such as accidents, near misses, the OSHA 300 log, at regular intervals. Check to what degree workers are participating in the safety program; monitor the number of suggestions received and training participation. Assess the progress the company is making toward its stated goals. Whenever necessary, discuss and make changes to the program. Reassess goals and procedures on a regular basis.
Safety managers are responsible for making sure all employees are aware of the dangers of their jobs and how to mitigate them. Open communication and encouragement of employee participation are key to keeping employees informed and prompting buy-in. By getting into those habits, safety managers can keep the lines of communication open and let employees know that safety is an important company value.
A good resource to reference when building out or updating your safety plan is the OSHA Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction.
To learn about where safety on the jobsite is headed, be sure to click download the free “The Future of Construction Safety” ebook.