It’s often thought when it comes to employee accountability for health and safety it’s enough for them to be responsible for the tasks they have been assigned to, to perform to the standards of their job and show up on time. We know that isn’t enough and we also know to get employees fully engaged and accountable it can take some work, though by giving ownership to them you can make it happen.

Giving employees ownership

There are four easy steps to giving employees ownership and empowering them to take accountability into their own hands.

  • Gather a team of volunteers from various levels within the business who have an interest in creating a new or assessing the current health and safety plan. Give this group the power to create change and let them go and do it.
  • Plan what you’re going to do and create a strategy for communicating it out to the wider business. It will be important for employee ownership that they are visible to everyone.
  • Use a tool or have frequent meetings so all employees in the group can keep up-to-date with what’s going on and still feel part of it even when they don’t have as many actions.
  • Your employees own this so it’s key the work isn’t done for them. If they’re struggling with something, guide them but don’t solve any problems yourself. Ask relevant questions to see if you can coax out a solution from them.

Tell them what’s required

Where you can be a big help to the team is by establishing some realistic goals, which may break down by level. Think about what you want for the business, departments and individual employees.

Monitor progress

You can help the team keep track of their activity and what may or may not be working by making sure reviews are performed frequently. Additionally, make sure to keep the process with employees by creating another group who can carry out the review. Imagine how demoralising it may feel for employees if management takes over this element.

Praise and reward high performance

Everybody loves to be praised for a job well done and by setting up achievable and clear goals with knowable rewards you’ll be making the whole process more engaging. Still, it’s also imperative to make sure praising some employees doesn’t negatively impact others and carelessly show their failures. Ideally, your rewards will be small tokens of appreciation that are visible to all areas of the business.

Things that can work as good incentives are logo heavy attire to clearly define members of the health and safety team, get-togethers to celebrate successes, such as when health and safety training is completed across the business, and gift vouchers.

As soon as the plan has been put in place you need to make sure everyone knows about it. Noise needs to be made, kick-off events need to be held and company-wide emails need to be pinged left, right and centre.

Making sure each employee is accountable

There are two important pieces to think about when it comes to an individual employee’s role in health and safety. Firstly, the employee needs to think about their own safety and how they’re conducting themselves within the workplace, which means how they’re doing their job and how they interact with those around them. Secondly, it’s how they’re contributing to making sure their wider department is safe, as well as how they look to create a safe environment for the broader business.

It’s often the case that employees see responsibility only for their own area and won’t contribute to or even think about health and safety outside of their immediate concerns. It can be hard to create the right kind of environment, but employees must be urged and supported in reporting any incidents, close shaves and potentially dangerous situations that may occur in all work-spaces.

How to create change      

Reporting any incident can’t be about management having the opportunity to chastise or discipline an employee. Rather, it’s a great chance to rectify actions and situations. Ultimately, it’s got to be there to make sure everyone is safer and employees must feel free to report on incidents without thinking there’s going to be a negative reaction. The potential for unreported incidents which result in an injury and then lead to workers’ compensation costs increasing is just too important not to consider.

Giving employees the responsibility of putting the health and safety plan into action is significant in making sure they are accountable. Help them in creating, launching, implementing and communicating it to the business and offer support when they need it. Always make sure to respond promptly and constructively to resolving safety risks and allow disciplinary issues to be handled by employee groups. And show your support so it’s visible across the business. Do all that and you’ll be a lot closer to keeping your employees accountable to health and safety.      

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