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3 Ways To Empower Employees And Build Safety


by Tom Reddon, Forklift Specialist for National Forklift Exchange and a member of Executive Dialogue team for MHEDA

workplace injury fallOne of the toughest tasks for any manager is enforcing safety rules. If following those rules is inconvenient, workers are sometimes reluctant to obey, which could necessitate confrontation or even discipline. Although punishing an employee could prevent the incident from happening again, there are a few preventative strategies that managers can use to encourage safe behavior.

This article will introduce you to a few of those strategies. Not only is it important to address unsafe behaviors as they happen but also to demonstrate safety in the workplace.

In every industry, there are steps that could be taken to make responsible behavior convenient, and if employees are happy at work, they are a lot more likely to act in a way that keeps coworkers safe and healthy:

1. Point Out Unsafe Behaviors Immediately.

If a worker violates a safety rule, it should not be ignored. Although you don’t necessarily need to “make an example” every time a rule is broken, just pointing it out could prevent that employee and those within earshot from repeating that action. Some managers might even choose to make a joke about it, but make sure you convey the importance of maintaining safety.

2. Model Safe Behavior.

The best managers are those that effortlessly avoid the “us vs. them” mentality. To do this, it’s important to appreciate employee input and to model the behavior that you expect. If the manager doesn’t follow a rule, then how can employees be expected to?

A few examples of constructive behaviors include:

  • Not eating at your desk in offices
  • Performing maintenance checks on workplace equipment
  • Wearing proper safety gear in industrial workplaces

If you work in an industrial workplace, it’s even more important to encourage safety. With heavy equipment, crowded work areas and uncontrolled foot traffic, irresponsible behavior can lead to serious injury or worse.

Often, those who operate machinery in industrial workplaces must take certain safety precautions before and after operation. Although these could be inconvenient and almost always unnecessary, managers should never miss an opportunity to demonstrate how to do the job right.

3. Keep Employees Inspired.

An inspired employee is not only more productive, but is also more likely to value the safety of co-workers. If an employee is reluctant to be at work, they are more likely to behave recklessly.

Inspiring an employee doesn’t have to be difficult. There are two steps that any manager can take to encourage workers: give credit when it’s deserved and consider any recommendations or work-related issues.

Praising safe behavior could motivate workers to continue it, and listening to employee opinions not only could lead to more responsible behavior but also could inspire new, useful ideas. While those creative ideas and satisfied employees take your business to the next level, encouraging safety will keep employees healthy and prevent workers’ compensation claims.

Responsible employees, therefore, can improve a business’s bottom line. For higher productivity and job satisfaction, managers should quickly address unsafe activity, model responsible behavior and motivate workers to do the same.


Tom Reddon

Tom Reddon is a Forklift Specialist for National Forklift Exchange and manages the blog.  Tom also sits on the Executive Dialogue team for MHEDA.  You can connect with Tom via Twitter @TomReddon.