Keeping Your Safety Culture Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the organisational culture of many businesses, including safety culture. In the UK, businesses are still struggling with the health and safety threat, with over 352,000 total cases and over 41,000 deaths caused by COVID-19. The virus has taken a toll on the people’s mental health and the current situation can be detrimental to safety culture. On the brighter side, however, most businesses have developed a greater general awareness of health and safety precautions concerning the virus. This includes installing social distancing barriers in the workplace to guide and encourage workers and customers to maintain a safe distance from one another.
Establishing a safety culture is nothing like a walk in the park, and it’s important for employers, supervisors, and safety officers to hold the line against cultural deterioration, especially during these tough times. The following are some of the factors that you need to implement to maintain your safety culture during the COVID-19.
Proper communication is a very powerful tool for any organisation, and it can be even more vital during this COVID-19 era. For your communications to be effective, you need to be present, straightforward, and honest. Let your workers know the business is taking all the necessary measures to protect their health and safety amid the pandemic. Embrace more personal modes of communication such as video calls and face-to-face communication where possible instead of just sending a boilerplate e-mail.
You should have clearly set safety procedures and expectations that are updated regularly to reflect the latest additional protocols from the government and health bodies. You should also consider proper communication as a two-way street. As much as you pass important information to your workforce, encourage them to also reach out with any concerns or questions that they may have regarding their health and safety.
Good leadership is the cornerstone of a solid safety culture, and anyone can become a safety leader within the organisation. As a safety leader, you need to set an example for your entire workforce, always demonstrating safe behaviours and showing workers the importance of prioritising on keeping one another safe. No matter your position within the organisation, you need to identify your allies and champions from the shop floor to the board room. Find everyone that you feel is on board with the safety message of your workplace and support each other. You need to build strong and confident communications that can win over everyone in the organisation, including the safety sceptics that you may have.
Systems, Behaviour, and Engagement
With proper communication and good leadership, establishing well-understood systems in your organisation will be very easy. Such systems will, in turn, promote employee engagement and safe behaviours with safety. You need to review your management systems to identify the adaptations you’ll need to make amid COVID-19. This is also a good time to build a system if you currently have none, or if you need a new system altogether.
Your workforce needs to be properly trained on your systems. Ensure to provide them with relevant information to help keep them and their coworkers safe during and after the pandemic. Besides adapting your systems and offering training, you’ll also need to set a positive example of safety engagement to make it easier for them to follow suit.