Rocky Ellison / Senio Manager HSE / Surespan Wind Energy Services Ltd. /www.surespanwind.com
Wind energy is the wave of the future, so why do companies rely on tactics from the past? If we want to change the culture of safety in our organizations, we first have to change how safety culture is perceived.
For years, companies have asked “how do we keep our workers safe?” and for the vast majority, the easy fix was to hire a safety officer to enforce safety policy. Companies added stiffer penalties for violations by creating “safety absolutes” (a set of safety rules that imminently meant you will be dismissed if you violate them) and posting the rules everywhere with the intent to keep people safe. Did it work? Sure it did, for a little while at least, but the truth is that people are still getting hurt every day.
Tougher policing fosters a compliance-based safety program, and fear of reprimand doesn’t help anyone adopt safety as a value. Think back to your childhood, your parents had rules they expected you to abide by. If you got caught breaking any of those rules, you were punished. You quickly learned not to break that rule because you feared the consequence, or at least this was your parents’ intent. Truth is, you learned nothing more than to be smarter when breaking the rule so you wouldn’t get caught.
When it comes to the safety of your workforce, you want your employees to buy into the program because it is something they believe in. Some of the key ingredients to start developing a true culture of safety are:
Promotion – make a conscious effort to praise and recognize good behavior. People will naturally seek attention, be it positive or negative. So start recognizing the things being done that promote safe work. Reward good decisions and most
importantly, share that information with the rest of the team.
Motivation and mentorship – as a leader, it’s up to you to motivate workers. As a motivator, you are a mentor and a coach. Therefore, you should get to know your coworkers and what they value. Help tie these motivators to why we work safely and make good decisions. Don’t be afraid to make it personal; help people make the connection between safety culture and their overall well-being.
Believe in it yourself – the most important factor to activating change is to believe in it yourself. Decide for yourself what you consider to be important; decide for yourself whether safety is one of your core values. Once you have bought into the culture, promoting it will be second nature. It’s much easier to sell something you truly believe in. WPE&D