There’s an old saying, “Inspect what you expect.” On the jobsite, compliance requires more than a glance at a daily check-list. It requires a regular check-in to ensure that everyone on the site is following required safety protocols. A safety check-list should never be something that you roll out as required, assuming that everyone on the team will comply.
Adherence to specific PPE wearing is non-negotiable and must be followed up on to ensure compliance. Let’s look at a typical situation where you might assume understanding and compliance. Once a week, you have a safety meeting. Team members show up because they’re required to do so. In an unenthused manner, you cover the needed safety topic – proper lifting techniques. When asked, everyone mumbles agreement, is dismissed, and heads back to the job site. Later that afternoon, someone experiences a back injury from lifting improperly.
You may have checked-off what needed to be covered in the meeting, but you didn’t do a follow-up to confirm that each team member was engaged and listening. Truth will always be found in behaviour. Acknowledging safety principles is one thing; following through is another.
Getting team members to commit to a safer work environment requires buy-in and a commitment from each to be focused and diligent. Effective safety leaders won’t simply “roll out” a list of expectations; they’ll engage team members and ask for concrete examples of the protocol in action. Let’s say you’re speaking on the topic of slips, trips, and falls. You might ask team members to provide concrete examples. You could seek feedback by requesting a list of potential dangers on the current job site and how they might be avoided.
You would follow through by monitoring activity on the job site and confirming that safety protocols are being observed and that infractions are being dealt with appropriately.
Safety meetings without follow-up and follow-through are like lectures. Team members show up because they’re required to do so and stand or sit with arms crossed, trying to appear interested. Truth be known, most “zone out” because “they’ve heard it all before.” Effective safety meetings focus on benefits and provide tangible reasons why compliance is vital.
Safety meetings are essential as they’re a chance for managers and supervisors to connect with team members, discuss changes, new developments, and refocus on safety and policies. Remember, as well-considered as your practices and protocols might be, You should never assume understanding or compliance without follow with team members.
As someone aptly put it, “Motivation is like deodorant; it needs to be applied daily.” People who are motivated to work and willing to focus attention on the task at hand will be the same people who “drive” your safety practices and deliver an exceptional safety record.
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