English - United States
The world is full of weird and wonderful reports and surveys, on all sorts of subjects. But sometimes you stumble upon a set of statistics that simultaneously send your jaw dropping to the ground and send a shiver stumbling along the spine. You stare at the screen and read it again. Just to make sure. Double-you-tee-eff..?
If unsettling research results are your thing, then have a chew on these numbers: 47% of Dutch employees on the factory work floors, in workshops or in outdoor locations admit to sometimes ignoring safety rules. 39% do so consciously, although only 61% believe that safety rules have been well explained to all employees.
Given the above, it probably won’t surprise you to know that 50% of these Dutch employees have been involved in an industrial accident at some point.
If you find yourself laughing at our irresponsible, cheese-loving, clog-wearing, skate-to-work European cousins, then think again. Each year, there are more than 600,000 non-fatal injuries in UK workplaces too, with almost 30% of those resulting in more than 7 days’ absence from work. What the safety helmet is going on here?
Even if the world is filled with accident-prone employees who ignore all advice, legislation such as the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations stipulate that the responsibility lies with the employer and the controllers of the premises to provide a safe and suitable working environment.
But, short of setting up your desk and chair on the factory floor and encouraging colleagues to act safely, how can you as a HR or internal communications contribute to workplace safety?
There’s an increasing amount of research that connects high work pressure with more workplace accidents, with the distance employees feel exists between head office and the shop floor being a factor that encourages them to ignore safety regulations and advice. Almost all companies push their employees hard to hit output objectives and sometimes corners are cut.
This is where HR and comms can prove their worth.
New employees have to be be informed of safe working conditions during onboarding, so once the do's and don'ts have been explained to them, they should hit the workflow as a shining beacon of safe and cautious behaviour.
But that shimmer gets dilutes before you know it. Because new information is initially stored in the short-term memory, it is important to repeat the information regularly and to make sure it’s used in practice, so that it gets shifted to the all-important long-term memory, which then becomes habit.
Sometimes ignored for communicating with non-desk employees, there are plenty of internal communications solutions - such as enterprise social media - that are focused on engaging effectively with non-desk workers. These platforms are especially useful when it comes to keeping employees sharp on the safety rules.
You can share safety rules and tips on a regular basis, providing the necessary repetition to move that information from the forgetful short-term memory to the habit-forming long-term memory. In addition, employees can make themselves heard via an internal social network - sharing advice with each other, commending the employees who go above and beyond in keeping their colleagues safe, and they have an obvious and fast channel if they have improvement suggestions, if things are not clear or if they have questions.
Hard topics to share:
By following these tips and tricks, you make sure that safety at work is consistently top of mind for your workforce while you become that most noble of entities: an employer who takes good care of their employees!
Need more ideas to share on Speakap? Download our 99 ideas document today, print it and hang it in the office til you've ticked all of them off...
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