As our teams eagerly return to sites across the country, we understand that, now more than ever, the implementation of health and safety is paramount. We also recognise that we can, and should, use this opportunity to build back better, by encouraging a strong culture of safety among our staff.
While we are all aware of the importance of H&S policies, and have seen the positive impact they’ve had on our sites and the lives of our staff, there can still be a level of cognitive dissonance. Behaviour on construction sites can sometimes reflect a level of disregard, as some policies are viewed as more labour-intensive and a barrier to quick and efficient work.
Creating a strong culture of safety can be difficult, but with the right framework, tools, training and technology, Site Management Teams can increase awareness, improve attitudes, and make safe behaviour the default behaviour onsite.
Before we can expect our staff to follow the safety program, they must be educated and feel empowered to implement these changes – we must give them a sense of purpose. Dedicated training days are a good way to keep your employees reminded of the why behind the what, especially now, as they take on further responsibilities regarding the health of fellow workers. Incorporating activities and incentives, making safety training an enjoyable learning experience encourages employees to get their site to the top of the leaderboard while still learning and staying up-to-date on workplace safety.
The emphasis is then on ensuring that they’ve taken what they learned back into the workplace. Workers are faced with situations every day that force them to decide between a safe course of action and an unsafe one. Our job is to encourage them to consciously choose the safe option every time, even when managers or inspectors aren’t present.
We know that positive reinforcement and framing information in a positive light is one of the best ways to implement behavioural change. You can alert your team to the positive outcomes of their actions through strong leadership, responsibility, and gamification and incentivisation:
- Lead by Example: Instilling a strong culture of safety in your team starts with honest and consistent communication from management. For a H&S program to be effective, there must be buy-in from the top down.
- Accountability: Consider a policy such as ‘Stop-Work Authority’, which gives an employee the ability to stop a task if they consider it unsafe. Putting safety in the hands of every worker can help you build a sense of responsibility and accountability at all levels.
- Reward and Incentivise: By setting attainable standards for your team and offering incentives for following your safety management system, you reinforce the positive outcomes that can happen when procedures are followed, and encourage them to adhere to the policies in the future.