Simply put, safety is a personal matter. We can talk about every possible hazard around us, discuss a dozen ways to reduce the risks, and remind people all day long about using best practices, but at some point, it's vital to remember why we are talking about safety in the first place. And, that would be to make sure we all go home safely every day. Moreover, we are not matching copies of one another. We bring different skill sets, behaviors, and aptitudes to work every day, and have different levels of personal exposure based on our own actions and the work that we do as individuals.
This certainly applies to supervisors and managers as well as the people who work for them. Research confirms that when employees are more involved and when they observe that their immediate supervisors are engaged, they more likely will have positive perceptions about their company's safety culture and more likely to work safely. I believe that making safety personal at the individual level is an important part of this process.
Here are a few tips to help you apply safety to your own life:
1). Use personal illustrations
One of the most obvious ways to do this is to simply talk about your own safety experiences. There's something about hearing someone share a recent personal experience, observation or incident that makes us listen more closely. When we hear a safety moment from someone and we know it's meaningful and relevant to him or her, it's easier to make a personal connection. And, the best part of it all is that it's very easy to do!
Do you have any personal safety stories about you, family members, or friends? Stories can add a nice personal touch when they are relevant to a current situation. If so, share them with the Team. We all can learn from them.
2) Link day-to-day exposures to your personal safety behavior
As I stated above, we are unique in many ways, and it's the same with our personal safety. Research shows that people differ in terms of individual traits, values, and abilities that impact safety behavior. So, talk about those – starting with yours.
For example, if you know you have a high-risk tolerance, and you're going to be working at heights all day, you may have to fight the urge to use the wrong type of ladder or not tie off properly in certain situations because it will take more time to do so. But, for someone else on the team, his/her blind spot might be getting distracted, or not being aware of his/her immediate surroundings. So he/she also might be at risk when working at heights, but for different reasons (e.g., forgetting to tie off their safety harness due to distraction or dropping a tool, which then causes a "line-of-fire" hazard below).
3) Share successes and failures
Frequently, when we do get personal in our safety moments, whether they are good or bad it tends to focus on someone being injured or a near miss when someone was almost injured or killed. These are impactful, but why not also talk about all the times we did the job safely and made the right decisions in order to put safety first? Talking about the things that have worked or not, and the potential harm we prevented proactively, can add a good touch that is both positive and personal. It encourages other team members to think about what they can do to prevent injuries, and that anyone can make a difference, no matter who they are.
Identify some things that you have done to reduce risks or even better: point out the successes of someone else on your team and what he or she has done to promote safety in a similar situation. This can be applied to the work being done today and can encourage your team while giving them specific takeaways and tips they can apply in their own day-to-day work experiences.
By taking simple steps such as these, we can add a personal touch to our Safety Moments. This will make them more memorable and impactful for our team members, which can, in turn, lead to more awareness and safe behavior, regardless of the job at hand. And don't forget GOAL ZERO is about us all coming home safe and healthy as we did when we arrived.
Here's an example of a safety moment given by one of our team members that she made personal.