You already know how important teamwork is to getting tasks done. When employees work together, they can accomplish many things at once. Each person brings unique ideas and skills to the table and jobs are completed quickly and more efficiently. But, did you know that teamwork is also an important element of safety?
That’s right. The power of teamwork can be harnessed to create a safety engagement culture in the workplace. This can lead to significant improvements in morale, engagement, creative problem solving, and a commitment to safety.
Emphasizing team safety makes safety everyone’s responsibility. Workers are encouraged to watch others to ensure their safety. They are also encouraged to remind coworkers to wear the proper safety equipment and actively monitor the worksite for safety concerns. At times, this means reporting unsafe behaviors and near misses. In organizations where team safety is not motivated, workers who report such things could be seen as “tattletales” or “boss’s pets.” If your organization has a healthy safety culture, the same safety measures are not viewed as a negative. Rather, team safety is something that is appreciated, recognized, and celebrated.
Having an engaged workforce is pertinent to safety. Everyone in your company needs to be committed. When safety is viewed as a team responsibility, workers are motivated to look out for each other. While the individual may view themselves as unstoppable, or unable to get hurt, when given the task of looking out for someone else’s safety, it is human nature to protect each other. Workers want to be engaged in safety, but if the environment or culture of the workplace does not encourage these behaviors, they will not internalize the company’s safety message. They will continue to do things the way they see fit and not consider the safety of the entire workforce.
You’ve heard the phrase, “lead through example.” This concept applies to safety practices and building a culture of safety in your company. You and your upper management staff must always display a commitment to safety. It is much easier to get employee buy-in when upper management demonstrates safety in everything they do. Setting the example creates a trickledown effect that reaches each employee. Upper management employees must be fully invested in the company’s safety message if they want to create a sustainable safety culture. They must become part of the team and do as they expect workers to do when performing daily tasks. Even as supervisors, they are not above the safety procedures and expectations.
Company leaders should make it a priority to talk about safety with workers. Some organizations introduce Toolbox Talks where they encourage their employees to discuss important safety measures or raise awareness about workplace issues. These talks are also a great way to encourage worker participation and grow your safety culture. Employees who feel comfortable speaking up about their safety concerns and sharing their experiences can unite the entire staff as a team and motivate them to rally around one and other.
Engaged workplaces are safer, more productive, and more profitable. Knowing that they are part of a team of people committed to safety gives employees the understanding that everyone is safer when working together to reduce workplace accidents.