Safety should be managed like any other aspect of our business by establishing goals, planning, organizing, and by holding management and supervisors accountable, yet we often feel like we must manage it differently. A key component of an effective safety management system is employee involvement. ISO 45001, ANSI Z-10, OSHA’sVoluntary Protection Program all include employee involvement elements, but what are the most effective means for getting employees involved.
We have many options available that don’t involve games, gimmicks, and giveaways. We can establish safety committees or a task force, offer participation in a Job Hazard Analysis or provide advanced training. There is one option that is often overlooked that is low cost, easy to implement and high impact…simply ask their opinion. If you are trying to decide on a style of Personal Protective Equipment, ask an employee. If you are trying to determine the best tool for the job, ask an employee. Anyone who has conducted incident investigations has likely learned the benefits of asking an employee about contributing factors and corrective actions.
So why get an employee’s opinion? First, everyone likes to share their opinion and often feel flattered when asked. It says we value their opinion and shows humility on our part, a key attribute of successful leaders. Second, you get feedback for little or no cost other than the time it takes to ask. Even if you don’t use the feedback, it provides important insight into what the employee thinks. Finally, asking their opinion is great recognition. It recognizes their expertise.
As you assess your safety management systems and methods, think about employee involvement and think about asking an employee for their opinion.