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Knowledge at Work - UL Workplace Health & Safety

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Workplace Safety

Creating a safety culture hinges on buy-in from frontline employees

September 11, 2013 - Posted by Brett Williams

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Since safety professionals can’t be everywhere at once, encouraging front-line employees to participate in observation-based safety programs is critical to spotting and addressing unsafe conditions. Employees should be able to submit observations on unsafe conditions, people, processes, incidents and injuries in a non-punitive, systematic fashion.

With employee observations in hand, safety professionals can then triage individual observations, consolidate their response, as appropriate, and analyze trends. The safety professional also is able to conduct a thorough causal analysis.

Once causal factors are understood, it is a relatively straightforward process to take corrective actions. The real opportunity for employers, however, is to “memorialize” an incident or injury as part of the organization’s collective safety culture so it never happens again. This is a far more challenging task, and nearly impossible to achieve when learning and safety management systems are not integrated. An integrated learning and safety management system can:

  • Draw from recorded observations and related analyses and quickly communicate this information back to the workforce
  • Alert employees immediately after a serious incident has occurred so they are informed of the situation
  • Facilitate training by eliminating the need to coordinate assignments with human resources
  • Help the organization avoid similar incidents in the future
  • Change an organization’s safety culture.

Creating a safer work environment is the right thing to do and can be linked to improved employee productivity and company financial performance. Creating a safety culture hinges on getting front-line employees to buy into the program. Buy-in starts with training employees on the best safety practices for their job function and extends to employee-based safety observation programs. Ultimately, organizations can collectively learn from incidents and ensure specific safety issues are resolved by integrating learning and safety programs.


Read howFedEx SmartPost used UL’s incident management tracking system to enable employees to anonymously report unsafe conditions and near-miss incidents.

Topics: workplace safety, Featured