Safety Culture for Young Workers
Working safely is a conscious decision. If employees understand the ramifications of unsafe practices, have a safe environment to work in and see that you value safety, they are much less likely to get injured on the job. It’s been proven time and again. Here’s how you can ensure a culture of safety.
- Emphasize the importance of safety and the ramifications of unsafe work habits from the very beginning of employment. Do it in writing. Reinforce it through verbal discussions. Make it a part of job descriptions and performance reviews.
- Be open to communicating about safety. You must make time to hear safety concerns or ideas about ways to improve safety. A good way to do that is to create a safety committee that meets at least quarterly and fields / evaluates input from employees. This committee should involve a mix of management and employees.
- Live up to your commitment. By law, employers must provide a safe work environment free from unnecessary hazards. You must also inform employees of their rights to safety and provide all necessary safety gear and training. A safe, clean workspace sets the tone for safety.
- Implement a structured, proven program. The Montana Safety Culture Act outlines programs for ensuring workplace safety. Most typically involve safety orientation, structured training, regular safety meetings and Return to Work programs. For more on the law and assistance with program development, contact your contact your Montana State Fund team.
HOOK ’EM EARLY:
- Within the first week of work – and preferably on the first day of work – orient new employees with safety basics. Stress that as an employer it’s your responsibility to provide a safe workplace, but that it’s up to each individual to pay attention, work safely, follow rules and ask questions.
- Be creative with your training. During group trainings, Montana State Fund’s safety team asks young workers to tape down their three middle fingers and then open a jar. Or pick up a box with one arm tied to their sides. They do this to show that there’s a real physical cost to unsafe behavior. Creative approaches are memorable and they can be fun opportunities for new employees to bond around safety.
- Provide immediate feedback. We recommend assigning safety mentors to new workers, particularly in jobs that involve complex equipment, sharp tools or lots of lifting and moving. The role of the safety mentor is to watch out for the new employee and help take corrective actions early. It’s a nonthreatening way to ensure a safe start and build accomplishment.
- Promote team responsibility. Larger employers will often visually identify new employees of any age within the workplace. For example, they’ll wear an orange safety hat rather than a yellow one. Their fellow workers know that the person in the orange hat is learning. They watch out for her. They correct unsafe behavior. And they intervene when she looks puzzled about a tool or task. This is great for morale, and it shows that safety and responsibility to co-workers are highly valued.
- Educate young workers on what to do if they are injured on the job. Filling out the online FROI is required by law and key to taking care of your employees. The injured employee and a business representative must file the First Report of Injury form. It can be filled out and filed online, download it then mail or fax it to us, or, call your team’s customer service specialist and file your form over the phone.
For 15 steps to creating a culture of safety, click here.