Winter Opportunities to Warm Up Your Safety Culture

Winter Opportunities to Warm Up Your Safety CultureThis morning on the news, local meteorologists said it was the coldest morning on record in three years. I don’t keep detailed records of these things, but the bone-chilling cold I felt when I stepped outside confirmed they were probably right (at least this time). 

Egypt just had their first snowfall in over 100 years, and the news has been full of massive highway pile-ups (refer to my last blog article for helpful “weatherproofing” tips). The bitter cold changes our normal routines and leaves everyone desiring warmth; yet while I don’t like the cold any more than the next guy, winter still remains my favorite time of year. 

Year-end is the perfect time to make concerted efforts to warm up your company’s safety culture. It’s also the perfect time to take the opportunity to reflect on the hectic pace of the year, and plan future efforts. Here are a few useful tips that work well:

Check the forecast. Review national models of safety excellence, and adapt your safety program to the known methods of success. Use standards like ANSI Z-10 to compare your strategies and objectives with national or international norms, and use scorecards, leading indicators and independent evaluations, to benchmark areas for improvement.

Sip on hot chocolate to warm up from the inside. Use your most valuable resource – your people – to invigorate efforts at managing risk. Use intrinsic motivation to maximize the human factor in your safety culture. Consider replacing your “carrot and stick” safety incentive program with a fresh recognition program that builds upon internal autonomy, mastery, and purpose to get the full yield from your team. I highly recommend reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive as a good starting point for this effort.

Throw a log on the fire and feel the radiant heat. Stoke up the fire by providing appropriate resources for each task. Encourage your people to take the time to preplan and get the right tools, information and training to ensure safe work, even when time and money are scarce. Make time to manage everything on your jobs, including safety, and offer the benefit of your experience. If it’s important enough for your time, it will warrant theirs.

Rekindle and reminisce. Build relationships, show concern, and make time to get to know those you work with. When you say you’re looking out for their well-being, they’ll see it’s true. A strong culture is fueled by trust. Remind your people WHY we work safely. It’s for our families, friends, and customers, not for OSHA. You need them to be safe, well, and productive, too!

While these efforts can be used year-round, people appreciate the extra bit of recognition and caring this time of year.  The results will last long beyond our memory of the chilling weather.