The simple answer is you don’t. When we see health and safety management, tasks and actions (such as inspections) as an “add-on”, we’re missing the point. Safety is a behaviour, it is in your culture, and it is part of your business. Like turning on the light in the store, safety is “on” anytime your employees are present. Safety starts with people first.
Often, we hear supervisors, managers and even safety professionals lamenting that there is not enough time in the day to do the pre-use inspections, monthly inspections, properly investigate an incident, or deal with a worker report of a hazard. This view of safety as an “additional task” is a serious risk to your business. Every task should be planned and safety is the first part of that plan. When safety is ingrained it becomes a natural event, such as putting on socks before boots. Think of your vehicle; seat belt first, then ignition and then driving. This process is just ingrained in us and it’s something that happens without thought. So, how do you ingrain safety into your workplace? We keep at it.
Psychologists tell us that to change behaviour it takes 21 consecutive days of execution. So, use this information to your benefit. Pick a safety task and have your department practice it for 21 days. Small steps of change will move safety from tasks to behaviours. Encourage each other, ask “did you inspect that equipment before using it today?”
At team meetings, discuss what safety concerns you have with tasks, equipment and processes. Use it as a time to create solutions. Make the discussion open and accept everyone’s input. If you observe an unsafe behaviour or situation; speak up and report it. Safety needs to be who we are and how we work. Often, businesses don’t create a safety culture until after a critical incident or tragedy. By then, it is too late. Safety is a culture not a task and you don’t need to find time when it is a part of your daily operation.