Building a Safety Community

While there is no dedicated space in OH&S magazine for “Letter’s to the Editor,” I do still hear from readers of the magazine and website fairly frequently. This past week, I received a lovely email from a safety professional who had recently found our podcast, OH&S SafetyPod, and listened to my latest episode on “Forming Safety Habits that Stick.” In the episode, I talk a lot about how safety professionals can identify behaviors that might form negative habits and what you can do to reroute habit loops to create the safest culture possible.

The episode came to the natural conclusion that sometimes the best way to reward safe behavior was to remind employee of something that tugs at their emotions. The example I used was if employees work in the safest way possible, then they know they can return to their families, their spouses and their children that night.

In this email, the reader was telling me that he found the episode particularly useful and that he would be thinking of ways to reroute safety habits as a result of having listened. He then dived into ways that he had worked in the past to create emotional ties to safety in the workplace. One of the things he did was ask each employee to explain something they enjoyed doing outside of work.

Once each employee had discussed the activity that gave them joy outside of the workplace, this safety professional turned the activities into posters and hung them in a common space. This served to remind employees of the reasons why they are safe at work, (so they get to go home and enjoy that activity) but it also gave the other employees the ability to learn a little something about their coworkers.

I love this idea of bringing workers together through the shared mission of their safety journeys. To me, this gives your company a feeling of community. I know we talk about safety culture all the time, and it is so important for safety to be part of every conversation that you are having, but what if you were also building a community at the same time? A community that had a shared interest in each other, so much so that they look out for one another and help them to understand the safest way to perform each task—sounds like safety utopia to me.

What are some of the ways you remind workers to perform their duties in the safest way possible? Feel free to always reach out to me with your examples—you might just see yours featured in the magazine next.

This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the former editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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