Worker Safety Tips: The Power of Empowerment

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Worker Safety Tips: The Power of Empowerment

Employee empowerment is something we usually see discussed in the pages of Forbes or Businessweek, but empowerment is just as important for you and your workers as it is for the C-Suite. In fact, given that safety is on the line, it may be even more important.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

Employee empowerment is something we usually see discussed in the pages of Forbes or Businessweek, but empowerment is just as important for you and your workers as it is for the C-Suite. In fact, given that safety is on the line, it may be even more important.

We’ve spoken to safety managers in various industries about how they empower their workers. Their tips break down into three concepts - encourage workers to speak up, give workers a mission, and let workers make decisions.

Speak Up

Encourage Workers to Speak Up

One of the easiest ways to empower someone is to give them a voice. You can find new and unique ways to empower workers from asking them to speak in meetings to recognizing and rewarding their efforts.

People

Have Smaller Safety Meetings

Break your safety meetings down into groups of no more than five or ten people. Smaller groups often make people more comfortable and encourage them to speak up if they have concerns or ideas.

Choose

Let Workers Help Choose PPE

Have all of your workers test samples of new PPE under consideration. This kind of worker input can have a significant impact on compliance.

Reward

Offer Rewards for Speaking Up

Try an incentive program to encourage workers to report existing or potential hazards as soon as they see them. The more safety hazards a worker reports, the more rewards they earn.

Mission

Give Workers a Mission

You can also empower workers by giving them a mission to accomplish.

Person

Assign a Point Person

Choose a worker to be in charge of each area or function. Make them responsible for the safety of their areas and for telling their supervisor about any risks or challenges. It gets more people engaged and helps to build a safety culture.

Mentor

Assign New Workers a Mentor

Assign freshly trained workers a mentor who is responsible for showing them how to apply the training they just completed and guiding them through their first project. New workers get the advice they need and the mentor knows you trust and value them.

Enthusiasm

Spread the Safety Enthusiasm

Find a worker with a positive attitude and make them an ambassador for safety. Have them show and tell others about the benefits of proper PPE and get people enthusiastic. It inspires people to work more safely in a fun and friendly way and empowers the “PPE Ambassador” to help make changes in the workplace.

Decision

Let Workers Make Decisions

There’s nothing as empowering as being able to decide your own fate. Give workers the power to decide some things for themselves.

Promote

Link Safety to Promotions

Require workers to demonstrate that they have done something to improve safety outside of their immediate work area before they’re considered for a promotion. This makes safety an essential route to success and gets your safety-minded workers into positions of leadership.

Timeout

Take Time Out for Safety

Take empowerment down to an individual level. Let workers know that they’re free to take a break at any time to invest five minutes to check that safety protocols are being followed. While some companies expect workers to keep their nose to the grindstone, sometimes the safest policy is to encourage people to step back and take a moment to think for themselves.

Ownership

Give Workers PPE Ownership

Whenever possible, offer two or three products that meet the safety needs for each job. Then let each worker pick which item they like best. If they aren’t wearing the right protection, you can ask, “Why aren’t you wearing that glove you picked out!?” It gives the worker a feeling of ownership and makes them more likely to comply since it wasn’t forced on them.

Empower

Expecting workers to just follow the rules can not only feel stifling for them, it can cause you to miss out on new ideas and observations that you can only get from workers doing the job. Try some of these ideas and see what a difference a little empowerment can make!