How to change safety behaviours

Rules are not enough

Do you think that rules and procedures change safety behavior?
And that employees will do things differently if they just know why and how they should work?
The reality is more complex, so how do you change safety behaviors?

Change takes time, effort and energy. It is human to hold on to what is known and safe, and habits are hard to break. In addition, time constraints and workloads can make production demands take precedence over safety. What can you do to help leaders and employees work safer?

Rules and procedures are necessary, but do not lead to safer behavior alone. A behavior-focused approach is required to change safety behavior and strengthen your safety culture. You have to be clear about what results you want to achieve, analyze data to determine what types of injuries or incidents are most important to work with, and define what core behaviors leaders and employees need to do, in order to prevent those injuries/incidents. Information about the core behaviors must be made relevant, clear and accessible, and leaders and employees must be involved and take ownership of local measures.

The safety climate created by the leaders in your business is critical to employee safety behavior. To ensure that all leaders have a good starting point for changing safety behavior in their teams, regardless of individual leadership communication effectiveness, you have to create learning content that takes them easily through an effective process to engage their teams. Focus on one topic over time and use story telling to engage employees. Let them reflect and discuss, decide on local actions, perform practical tasks and document their work. This also allows you to analyze the input, and pick out the bright spots to spread and reinforce the core behaviors you want to see.

By doing this, you will increase knowledge, engagement and ownership, which are all key components to changing safety behavior and strengthening the overall safety culture among your leaders and employees.