OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week: Engaging Your Employees to Achieve High Safety Standards

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Kevin B. Keith, Director of Safety Services, ABC Keystone

June 12-18, 2017, is OSHA’s Safe and Sound Week. This week is set aside to remind employers that creating a safe workplace makes sound business sense. Open input from workers at all levels and company leaders acting on the concerns and suggestions can lead to a much more productive, quality driven, and safer work environment. Nothing should be shocking in this basic concept of business operation and protecting the worker. For years, insurers have shown that the cost of workers’ compensation coverage and payments for work-related injuries can all but cripple a business. Increased workers’ compensation costs lead to money draining from profits and force companies to chase more and more jobs or work to cover the losses. You would think that it would lead a reasonable business owner to stop and think about this profit draining dilemma. At least that is what you would think, right? Unfortunately, time and time again this is not the case. Business leaders focus on the growth of the company by focusing on one simple optic, the production schedule.

Focusing on the amount of work that is on the books and the projects that lie ahead will assist an employer with predicting the number of workers needed to complete the job, but it should not be the measuring stick for how successful the company is operating. The production schedule is more like a crystal ball in that it is a better predicter of how successful the company could be and not a snapshot of actual profit performance. The attitudes of getting the job done at all costs and focusing on addressing production needs first and figuring out safety later will lead to many safety related issues and the potential for loss is greater. Having an open forum for workers to voice safety concerns assists in the improvement of worker morale, quality of service, and an increased buy-in of all workers for improved overall job satisfaction. Recent surveys show that pay/compensation is the top reason that workers give for overall job satisfaction. In order to pay good people more money, the company has to be able to perform well at all levels to maximize profits. Maximizing company profits means an increased focus on keeping a good balance between productivity, quality and safety. If any one of these gets too much emphasis placed on it, a company can find itself running around in circles chasing its proverbial tail trying to achieve higher income. Whereas a company that recognizes the fine balance and incorporates safety with productivity goals, the end result is a good, quality service that becomes more appealing to customers.

Looking at this from a different viewpoint, a common reason for job dissatisfaction given by employees is often the fact that they are being kept out of the communication loop. The lack of communication and the inability to play an active role in the company will drive workers away and create animosity. Allowing workers to have the ability to speak up and provide input in the safety, quality and production process will help the worker feel much more engaged and valued and ultimately will provide for increasingly engaged safety efforts. Workers like to know about the decisions being made by the employer, and they like to know about decisions that have a potential to directly impact their livelihoods. A failure to recognize this basic employee need can lead to higher turnover, which also impacts the profit margin and employee engagement. Opening the lines of communication and creating an environment of collaboration will help to bring innovative ideas to a company. An engaged workforce breeds a safer work environment and higher profitability. The workplace becomes a much more cohesive unit and breeds a feeling of worth. ABC Keystone Chapter can aid in the process of improving your company’s safety efforts and ultimately worker satisfaction and profitability. The ABC Keystone Safety Department is here and ready to help to provide consultative services to your company!