Do a couple of Google searches around risk taking in the Australian workforce and it’s easy to see that not everyone has a positive attitude towards safety and injury management. Many employees, particularly in larger businesses, tend to adopt a rule breaking approach if it’s likely to get a job done faster. So how can we as Leaders alter employee perception and, when it’s not always a simple task, should we?
Absolutely we should!
The latest figures show that work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion, with 77% of that worn by employers. So really, we’re mad if we don’t!
As Leaders it is up to us to provide the foundation for a strong culture of safety for our employees. We should enforce a top-down approach, adopting a proactive leadership style and promote a positive attitude towards safety in the workplace.
So how do we achieve this? Here are 8 simple steps to get you started that will make an immediate difference to your safety culture:
- Commit to being risk adverse – write it into your company values if you need to but ensure that you are committing fully if you really want to be a positive safety leader
- Walk the talk – lead by example, show your employees how to be safe, raise topics for discussion, reward safety initiatives and ideas and never break the rules!
- Keep informed and educated on safety – talk to people, read, hire an expert… do whatever you can to ensure you are well informed around safety relating to your specific industry
- Ensure you have a policy in place – most businesses already do, but do some benchmarking to ensure it’s up to standard
- Communicate the policy from the top down – make sure your employees understand that their safety at work is paramount and the policy is enforced
- Listen to your employees – ensure they are given regular opportunities to voice their concerns and can do so in an environment and with someone they are comfortable with
- Act on issues – what’s the point in being risk adverse if you’re not going to act on the issues, right?
- Update employees – when an employee has had the confidence to voice a concern, ensure that you keep them updated regularly on any outcomes
So at this point, you’re either ready to start making some positive changes, or you’re waiting for the punch line. Well, here it is… remember that figure? $61.8 billion!
You can’t afford not to make some changes. Throw the rule-breaking approach out the window and refuse to contribute to the statistics! You might just be surprised too because there’s no doubt you’ll also profit from the additional benefits of a strong safety culture: happier employees, higher productivity, positive business relationships, less absenteeism and reduced claims costs.