There are certain rules of human behavior that must be considered when developing a process of safety management. If you violate these rules, you will fail in your objective to develop a safer workplace. The rules themselves are simple, however, don’t be deceived because they have a great influence on human behavior.
- Repetition: To get your message across it is necessary to use repetition. Repetition will ensure that your safety message is at the top of every employees’ consciousness. Safety management is a process not an event. One of the ways to create this consciousness about safety is to hold five-minute safety briefings at the beginning of each shift. This is very similar to a game plan which is discussed before a sports team takes the field. If you make the safety briefings relevant, interesting and valuable, you will find that staff members will contribute readily.
- Consistency: The concept of consistency applies to many situations and has a profound effect on human behavior. We trust people who are consistent, we believe their message, in turn we will tend to be more trustworthy and consistent. Consistency is demonstrated. For example, if, at a safety briefing you mention that there will be no blame should an accident occur, the statement must be backed up by your behavior and the behavior of others in the event of an accident.
- Involvement: Involvement is the key to safety management. To gain control, you must give control. The people who are ideally situated to develop safe working practices are the people doing the job. This contrasts with the normal prescriptive safety management process where somebody, somewhere creates rules and regulations without the experience of doing the job. Every single person on any work site should be able to contribute to safe working practices. If you avoid this basic principle, you will find that the imposed “safe working practices” will be ignored.
- Positive reinforcement: The number one tool in safety management is positive reinforcement. If you are serious about creating a safer workplace, make sure that you recognize safe behavior. Every day go on a mission to find people who are working safely and tell them that you have noticed what they are doing. This is harder than it sounds. Try it and find out for yourself. But remember, the results are well worth the effort. Catch your people doing it safely and they will continue to do it safely.
- Common sense: It has been said that sense is not that common. This is relevant when considering workplace safety management. If the safety rules and regulations don’t pass the common sense of the people at risk, they will not comply. That’s why the involvement of the staff in safety management is so important.