Explore the crucial link between employee engagement and safety, and how fostering a collective safety mindset within a supportive work environment significantly enhances industrial safety outcomes.
We usually think of industrial accidents in terms of the mechanical causes: a part that should have been inspected had metal fatigue, a machine was overloaded, a hazardous area wasn’t properly secured, and an employee who noticed a problem didn’t speak up due to a "mind-your-own-business" culture. When all the factors line up in the wrong place and wrong time, somebody gets hurt: an employee was distracted, and they were struck by a falling load when a fatigued piece breaks.
It is easy to identify the mechanical causes of an accident. But it is a lot harder to figure out what was going on in an employee's mind just before the accident. It’s important for a Safety Champion to target the social factors that contribute to a workplace accident. Employees who are frustrated or demoralized may be more prone to accidents, while those who are energized and motivated are generally safer. Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between employee engagement and safety, with engaged employees tending to be safer and safer employees tending to be more engaged.
If an employee is unhappy, they aren’t likely to be concerned with the effectiveness of their team and they're more likely to be disengaged on the job. When an employee feels mistreated or undervalued by their employer, the work relationship becomes strained, with the employee likely to be less willing to go above and beyond for their team. They may not even feel like a member of a “team” at all.
Safety is a team effort, whether it involves two people lifting a heavy object together, or one person steadying a ladder while another climbs it. Engaged workers tend to work better in teams and are more collaborative. They are more willing to work together towards common goals. They also feel a stronger sense of responsibility towards their co-workers and are more committed to achieving the team's objectives. The more engaged your team members are, the less likely they are to get into an accident.
A positive safety culture is just as effective as physical precautions in preventing accidents. A supportive work environment, characterized by trustworthy leadership, autonomy, and good co-workers, will dramatically improve safety outcomes in your workplace.
Learn the art of running an effective safety meeting that encourages open discussions, appreciates safety compliance, rotates members for diverse opinions, and engages new hires, with the goal of building a stronger safety culture.