The safety and wellbeing of your employees is your priority. The most effective way to maintain best practices across your organization is to ensure your staff are fully engaged, committed, and personally motivated. Here are ten ways to engage your employees in safety and personal preparedness.
Create a health and safety committee
These employees will oversee the ongoing definition and evaluation of your policies, and keep up-to-date on regulations specific to your industry. Their tasks can range from planning drills and developing new employee safety programs, to working with business continuity consultants to enhance response plans. Try to identify at least two chairs, and have a representative from each department of your company. Crisis expert, Shelby Edwards, explains “Seniority, enthusiasm, and knowledge of your business are all must-have qualities!”
Spread the word
Post your policies where your team can find them – on posters throughout the office and on the company intranet, so all employees can read and understand them.
- Throughout the office: Post maps of the office with evacuation routes and the location of key emergency supplies, in addition to a view of the surrounding area with meeting places and the nearest medical centers and disaster shelters. It’s also a good idea to post the names of people with first-aid certification.
- On the intranet or another internal database: Your more in-depth plans should be housed on your intranet, including communication plans, explanations of the different types of natural disasters that occur in the area, and business continuity plans.
Spark a discussion
Host lunch-and-learns or coffee sessions where both management and frontline staff can chat about ways to make improvements and opportunities for enhanced practices throughout the year. Make an effort to host one every quarter, and incorporate different themes for each. A few ideas for topics include:
- Hazards in the facility, plant or office building
- Primary and alternate evacuation routes
- An overview of natural disasters that may occur in your area, and the actions to be taken in the event that they occur
- Steps to be taken during an evacuation (e.g. ensuring emergency kits are taken with you, shutting off utilities if necessary)
- Communication plans in a crisis
With management involved, these events are also a great opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to safety and exemplify that it is truly a team effort, from the top-down and all around.
Remember your drills
Conduct drills with your entire team every 3-6 months, reviewing procedures, roles, and responsibilities so everyone is comfortable with processes. We all know practice makes perfect, so the more you practice the more prepared your team will be in an unexpected situation. It’s a great idea to practice a different scenario each time, so try different disasters, like fires, earthquakes, and floods, while also introducing new challenges along the way, like a blocked staircase or downed power line outside the building. This can easily be tied into a lunch-and-learn, and is a great team-building exercise too!
After every drill and evaluation, request staff feedback to identify areas of concern, gaps, or ways to improve processes. This can be done anonymously (in case your team does not feel comfortable discussing these items directly with managers), or you can run contests to have the team vote on the best suggestions and provide recognition/rewards. Invite them to provide feedback on even the smallest things, and emphasize that nothing will be seen as ‘crying wolf’.
Offer personal training
Offer opportunities for your staff to partake in personal training for safety and emergency management – you may be surprised how staff want to personally advance their education and support the team. Some great options include courses for first aid, fire safety, and workplace inspection.
Start from day one
To really engage your staff in safety, it needs to be a priority from the day they start! Integrate safety training into every employee’s orientation, including those who aren’t working out in the field or in a plant/factory. Ensure all safety and emergency procedures are reviewed in their first week on the job and follow up with a check-in meeting a few weeks later to see if they have any other questions or concerns.
Check your equipment and supplies
Have your team schedule regular reviews of protective gear, emergency supplies, and evacuation equipment to ensure nothing falls out of date or expires. This is an easy exercise to include in lunch-and-learns or drills to ensure it isn’t forgotten.
Where possible, assign a specific health and safety task to every member of your team so it is written right into their job descriptions, including management. Seeing the CEO check the expiry date on fire extinguishers makes full team engagement real to all! Some other tasks to include are:
- Grabbing emergency kits in an evacuation
- Updating emergency kits based on the season and the needs of new staff (e.g. an allergy)
- Ensuring all staff are accounted for in an evacuation
- Checking that emergency signs, smoke alarms and CO2 monitors are working
- Supporting a staff member who has mobility issues in an evacuation
- Ensuring plans posted throughout the office and on the intranet are up to date
Thank your team
This is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to safety, and bring it to life. Recognize staff who embody your policies and/or go above and beyond to make a difference to the safety and wellbeing of your organization. A small thank you note, celebratory lunch, or recognition wall can go a long way!
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