Today’s management teams face unprecedented challenges in the area of maintaining a safe work environment. In addition to the obvious need for creating an environment of health, safety and wellness, OSHA requirements and possible repercussions for neglecting them are more stringent than ever.
Management teams are handling this heightened challenge in a variety of ways. Some companies employ strict measures for safety violations, hoping that the austere environment will coerce employees into compliance. However, from a psychological perspective, this authoritarian approach does little to promote a pleasant, cooperative aura in the workplace. Instead, it tends to keep personnel on edge and fosters a suspicious, critical mentality among co-workers.
For example, one well-known company in the food production industry upholds the motto “Accidents don’t just happen: people cause them.” This company immediately terminates the employee who is responsible for any “accident” on the job site. While such a policy may effectively alleviate on-the-job mishaps, it also may have a tendency to incite the qualities of fear and reluctance, which are generally not conducive to productivity.
What can a management team do, then, to reduce injuries, illnesses and the resulting employee down time? Some companies raise awareness by using safety quotes to promote a more secure work environment. A well-constructed safety quote can speak volumes and help change your corporate culture. Perhaps the following guidelines can be used to create effective safety quotes that will bring about a positive response from the company’s work force:
Keep them simple. Just as with roadside billboard advertising, passers-by have only a few seconds to view and to grasp the message. Zero in on a specific “call to action” that needs to be accomplished. A brief statement such as “Hardhats Only Zone” can be much more effective than posting a lengthy quotation of the law code which requires such safety measures. The bottom line is this: if it isn’t read, it isn’t noted.
Brevity also helps eliminate the feeling of being lectured (which invariably generates an adverse response from an audience). Using the simple message “Hardhats Only Zone” is psychologically acceptable whereas a lengthy explanation of the types of injuries that can be sustained when the hardhat is neglected can be patronizing. Try some of these simple quotes that can be found online on various sites:
- “Head injuries are brutal: protect your noodle.”
- “Accidents don’t keep business hours.”
- “A confined space is a dangerous space.”
- “Don’t live on the edge.”
- “What you don’t know CAN hurt you.”
- “A spill + a slip = an emergency room trip.”
- “Put safety first because accidents last.”
Use one, simple, colorful graphic with each safety post. A bright yellow hardhat and a pair of goggles with the words “Get in Fashion” makes an understandable, effective statement while appealing to the basic need for conformity.
Appeal to a basic human need such as survival, security, belonging, and self-esteem. A simple silhouette of a family next to the words “Don’t make the Emergency Room your hangout after work today” may cause an employee to think twice before circumventing a protective measure.
Use humor rather than a didactic approach. For example, a simple graphic of a person’s head with hair standing on end and the words “Electrocution is a shocking way to go!” or “Missing fingers will seriously hinder your golf swing!” get the point across in a memorable way.
The use of safety quotes, when handled effectively, can mean lower DART ratings for your company. Devoting time and money to create a safe work environment is not a cost: it is an investment. If you would like more ideas for promoting EHS standards within your team, you can contact the Nimonik Company online or call toll free at 1-888-608-7511. A highly-skilled member of the Nimonik team is standing by waiting to speak with you about your EHS needs.