What Do Your Employees Think About Safety?
Research shows that employee perceptions of workplace safety affect safety culture and performance. What do your employees think about safety?
What employees think about workplace safety affects how they act on the job and how involved they become in creating and maintaining a safe work environment. If you want employee-driven safety, you have to know what employees are thinking about your work environment and safety programs.
A while back, Towers-Watson, a leading global professional services company, decided to find out. They conducted a body of research that revealed employee views about how well their companies were doing in terms of:
- Keeping workers safe
- Providing the tools and processes they need to work safely
- Involving them in safety decisions
- Addressing other related safety and health concerns
Justine O’Connor, senior research associate for the study, summed up the research findings this way:
“A lot of empirical data show that employee perception of the work environment’s safety is actually linked to strong safety outcomes. So if you pay attention to employees and fix those problems, it can help in terms of recordable rates, days away from work, and other metrics.”
Four Categories Perception
The study found that employees’ perceptions in four categories correlate with safety excellence:
- Supervision and management. According to the research, safety performance is better in workplaces where employees feel good about the quality of management.
- Teamwork. Workplaces where employees perceive a strong sense of shared purpose and support are safer than those where working as a team is not emphasized.
- Empowerment. For the purpose of the research, empowerment was defined as the extent to which employees are involved in decision-making that affects them and whether they’re given the knowledge and the tools they need to make safe decisions. Here again, safe workplaces describe themselves as more empowered than workplaces with less impressive safety records.
- Workload. Employees who feel they have too much work and are overwhelmed tend to have more safety problems, according to the research. However, in workplaces where employees report feeling overloaded but where teamwork is a strong value, the negative effect on safety is less than where there’s too much work but no teamwork.
Employee perceptions of workplace safety aren’t the only ones that impact employee-driven safety. If management clings to the belief that it can impose safe work practices on unwilling employees, accidents and injuries will continue to occur.
The only real path to safety success is paved with employee buy-in and involvement.
- National Safety Survey Identifies Areas for Improving Workplace Safety (themarlincompany.com)
- Measuring Safety Culture in the Workplace (themarlincompany.com)
- 10 Ways to Involve Workers in Accident Prevention (safetygator.wordpress.com)
- How Safety Signs Can Reduce Accidents in the Workplace (smartsign.com)