VANCOUVER — For most workers, the topic of safety is unappealing and uninteresting, and this misconception is partly the safety managers’ fault, according to one veteran safety trainer.
Richard Hawk, a health and safety speaker specialized in helping companies achieve vibrant health and safety culture, was the keynote speaker at this year’s 17th Annual Western Conference on Safety.
“Safety is not boring; you’re boring!” Hawk joked with conference attendees, pointing out to be effective safety leaders, health and safety managers must get their employees excited about safety.
The first thing safety managers must do to achieve this: make safety fun.
This can be accomplished, Hawk said, by touching on the workers’ emotions — people perform better when they have positive feelings.
“Emotions drive people’s behaviours. . . our behaviours will determine how safe we are,” Hawk said.
Trying to logically convince workers to follow safety programs won’t be as effective as appealing to their emotions, he said. For example, instead of writing down or telling them what you would like them to do, show them.
The objective is to get workers to feel passionate, or at least positive, about your safety programs. Often, workers feel apathy towards safety because they view it as boring and uninteresting, Hawk said.
The objective is to reduce that apathy by making safety interesting. There are various ways safety managers can achieve this. Hawk offered six ways:
1. Go for fame. People want to be famous. Design your safety programs or message in a way that will allow them to feel special, such as recognizing them by name for their safety efforts.
2. Use marketing that touches people’s emotions. Have a look at written materials employees receive and ask yourself: “how much of this information is touching people’s emotions?” If the answer is, “none,” try coming up with another concept. Take a page from the beer commercials or those Geico ads on TV.
3. Stimulate the senses. Just telling people they have to do things is not going to work. Use other ways to get your message across. Instead of long boring Power Point slides, for example, try using videos or encourage participation from the workers.
4. Create real competition. Make it fun by initiating competition that allows them to learn at the same time. Think: Jeopardy, the safety edition or Wheel of Misfortunes.
5. Use themes. Consider having a mascot, or just a simple symbol that will remind your workers about safety on as regular basis.
6. Go beyond hard hats. Safety is not just about wearing personal protective equipment. Show your workers you care about their health as well. Focus your programs on things like stress and mental health in the workplace, and encouraging workers to take their safety learning to their own homes.
Hawk encouraged attendees to be great listeners in order to be great safety leaders.
“Listening is the most powerful tool you will have in interacting with humans. People listen to people who listen to them,” Hawk said.
More than 820 safety professionals and 72 exhibitors attended the 17th Annual Western Conference on Safety, being held in this city from April 23 to 24.
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