Starting Health and Safety Conversations in the Workplace

There are many elements that contribute towards the effectiveness of your health and safety (H&S) program in the workplace. These elements include strong leadership, collaboration, and a responsive approach with regards to addressing issues.

All of these depend on good communication, particularly fruitful H&S conversations. When you’re able to talk about and listen to concerns regarding health and safety at work, you’ll be able to implement your policies successfully.

If you’re having trouble facilitating such discussions within your organisation, here are some helpful pointers to get the ball rolling:

Provide Training

One of the most straightforward ways to talk about health and safety at work is to provide ample training. This not only puts your employees in the correct mindset, it also provides them with the skills they need to handle H&S issues at work.

Perhaps more importantly, providing such training can help your employees understand matters surrounding workplace health and safety. If they know why something is important, then it’s easier for them to talk about it as well.

Enumerate the Benefits

Another way to ensure that everyone in your workplace will be more open to conversations about health and safety is to enumerate the benefits. Explain the rationale behind your H&S policy, as well as why you’re providing them with regular training.

You should also highlight the benefits not just to them, but also to those they care about. It’s easy to say that having a healthy and safe workplace is good for their productivity—and thus, their career. However, it will make more of a mark if the benefits extend to their family and friends.

Adopt a Problem-Solving Stance

Most of the time, people don’t know or aren’t aware that what they’re doing is unsafe. In short, your employees’ less-than-ideal H&S habits are not due to willful ignorance but rather a lack of awareness.

Thus, when you open discussions about health and safety, don’t point fingers and place the blame on your employees. Again, they’re not being deliberately unsafe. Simply put, be objective. State why their behaviours are not ideal and how you can work together to change them.

When you criticise, your employees will likely take offence; when you’re clear, helpful, and genuinely concerned for their welfare, your employees will respond to you better.

Offer Specific Explanations

There are many reasons why you should be talking about health and safety in the workplace with your employees. For one, it’s crucial for morale, productivity, and business success. It’s also important in terms of compliance. After all, you can be in serious trouble with the law if you aren’t able to provide a healthy and safe working environment for your employees.

However, these reasons are too broad and may not be easily appreciable. As such, it’s best if you can further refine your motivations to make them relatable. For example, you can cite incidences of injuries at work and how these could have been prevented by robust health and safety regulations.

It’s human nature to think of one’s self first. Thus, if you make the matter about them, they will be more receptive to your message. Ultimately, this can result in productive conversations.

Tell Stories and Share Facts

As previously mentioned, making the topic of health and safety more relatable can open the doors to fruitful conversations about it—and one of the best ways to do this is by telling stories.

Focus on the ones that have occurred in your workplace first, since these will definitely hit closer to home and thus have more power to move your employees. Then, find the most recent updates happening in your industry. It’s also a good idea to read up on work-related injuries and illnesses.

You can also talk to your insurance provider. They will likely have stories that you can use to further underscore the importance of health and safety in your organisation.

Be a Good Example

Last but certainly not least, being a leader by example is one of the best ways to normalise talking about health and safety at work. When your employees see you following your H&S policies and programs religiously, they will be more encouraged to do so as well.

It starts with the small things. For example, if your workplace requires the use of personal protective equipment or PPE, make sure to wear each item correctly. You should also clean up after yourself when you eat in the cafeteria, and ensure that you throw your waste in the correct bin.

Communicating with honesty and respect is also important. If you need to raise an issue, don’t be confrontational. Rather, be caring. It’s also crucial to be open to feedback. Your employees are the ones who are going to be directly affected by your policies, so consider their suggestions and encourage people to share their honest opinions.

 

When you and your employees can talk openly about health and safety, your programmes and initiatives will be more effective.

CC Training Academy offers health and safety courses for the workplace.