Feeling valued by your employer is one of the most powerful staff motivators. Nowhere is this more important than in health and safety. A poor health and safety record has long-lasting repercussions beyond the factory. One incident not only has a significant and often life-changing impact on an individual and his or her loved ones; it also damages trust in the company amongst colleagues and customers.
A company may believe that it has robust health and safety procedures in place but if they are not understood by staff, or if complacency sets in, they are sadly meaningless. Regular and effective communication lies at the heart of any strong safety record; that is, two-way communication between management and the workforce.
Managers who spend time on the shop floor and who are prepared to halt production to resolve an issue will build trust in their team. Such behaviour sends a powerful signal that safety always comes before production or profit. This in turn encourages workers to spot potential hazards and report incidents. Each individual has a unique knowledge of their work, and reporting both incidents and near misses helps all to learn lessons for the future. For this to become habitual, however, workers will seek to see what action was taken as a result.
Seeing a growing number of days since the last incident may appear a great success story but only where such incidents or near misses are indeed falling as a result of good practice and not simply because of a lack of reporting. Rewarding employees who report concerns will ensure that issues continue to be raised.
‘How’ issues are reported too will affect how motivated staff are to raise their concerns. If the process is time-consuming or bureaucratic, there’s little incentive to take time out to register them. Workers should be consulted on what reporting should look like to get their buy-in from the start.
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