Employee engagement is crucial to any successful safety program. Managers can show safety commitment by asking simple questions and can show employees they care by promptly responding to concerns. The power of a question is a great technique to demonstrate strategic visibility.
When is safety engagement real? Safety engagement does not exist without being seen. The engagement becomes tangible when company leadership develops an intense focus on critical safety processes. That takes planning. Questions can increase intensity about a topic and prompt a response.
Where do you spend your time? Your presence in the right safety-related processes demonstrates what is important to you. Employees must be able to hear and understand your interest within the context of your questions! If you do not ask safety related questions, you are not interested. And if you do ask, you should be prepared to hear the raw truth.
For example, new employees form opinions in the first couple of hours they are on site. This is a perfect opportunity for site managers to set the safety tone by meeting with them. Take the opportunity to communicate safety expectations in person. This is often done at the NEO (New Employee Orientation). Ask them about their personal commitment to safety and see what they say.
But just because you touched on this during orientation, doesn’t mean the process stops there. Intentional interaction with employees during safety meetings, pre-job meetings, and audits shows all employees your continued commitment to safety.
Here are ten safety related questions that will help set the tone:
- How do you prevent the “worst” thing from happening?
- How can I help you prevent a potential injury?
- Do you feel like you get the proper safety training?
- Do you feel like you get the proper instructions to perform tasks safely?
- Do you feel comfortable stopping work if a hazard is present?
- How do people around you demonstrate their commitment to safety?
- Do you have the appropriate tools to complete your work safely?
- Do you believe that all incidents (injuries, near misses, first aids, etc.) can be prevented?
- Is there anything safety-related you would like for me to evaluate?
- If you could make one safety improvement, what would you do?
A leader who understands the work being done, shows genuine concern for employees, and engages them consistently will always be successful. We often believe that an employee’s quality of work is equivalent to the effort they put in and show. This applies to leaders as much as it does employees.
For more information on effective planning go to: https://peaksafetyperformance.com/services/safety-performance/safety-planning/
Carl Vasquez, CSP, ASP, TSSP, is Director-Safety, Education & Training, for the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA).