Safety programs require Safety Professionals to investigate incidents, review findings with their teams, and discuss how and what they need to improve to stop the events from happening again. You are also required to audit other people's work, and determine what has been done well and what needs to be corrected. All while ensuring compliance with OSHA and OH&S requirements. Do you spend most of your time discussing what has gone wrong?
This oftentimes leads to most conversations having a negative connotation.
So, what do you do?
How do you change the conversations from ones that most people dread, to positive interactions and experiences for your team?
How does this result in a change in human behaviour and especially, the way we look at workplace safety?
How can we consistently provide positive reinforcement to our workforce?
The answers lie in this old saying…..” Small rudders turn big ships”!
Let’s take a closer look at the “small rudders” that are proven to change everyone’s perception of the safety program and ultimately build a more positive safety culture using safety moments.
Start Celebrating The Wins During A Safety Moment
Big or Small we want to celebrate them all!
Positive reinforcement changes the way we look at workplace safety! Presenting the Safety Moment in your daily or weekly safety meetings offers a perfect opportunity to consistently provide this reinforcement.
The important thing about celebrating small wins is that we're continuously building upon them, we're communicating them with our team and everybody sees what's happening. When you start to recognize these WINS and bring them up to your team, you get a very positive cultural effect. The keys to reaping the benefits of the small wins are regularity, frequency, and consistency. By showcasing “Positive Safety Moments” in your safety meeting, you are guaranteed to gradually “turn that ship” with positive reinforcement!
Some of the things that you want to be looking for are behaviors, continuous improvements, and seeing a great mentorship moment or a safety leader in your company. These are perfect opportunities to vocalize a win and make sure that your employees know about the good things that they're doing, along with the good things the team around them is doing.
There is real science behind this! We get a reward in our brain, in the form of a dopamine release, every time that we get positive reinforcement.
Encourage employees to tell how the celebration of the WINS has changed their connection to workplace safety. Has it done more than elevate their mood? Has it caused them to choose a safe procedure over the faster or more comfortable unsafe behaviour? How did this make them feel?
Have the patience to see the changes you envision play out over time. Big ships don’t turn on a dime!
Use Positive Reinforcement During Safety Moments
We all know how it feels when somebody comes down on you and gives you a hard time, right? You just have that dejected feeling of, "Wow, this is a really, really tough day." Remember that goes all the way across your team too. If somebody's getting that feeling, then it spreads throughout your company.
Positive feelings spread that way too. Expect the celebration of small wins to build on each other.
In his book, Bringing Out the Best in People, Dr. Aubrey Daniels discusses the best ways to succeed at delivering positive reinforcement. Let’s look at a few of these now.
- Positive reinforcement is the key to replacing unsafe work habits with safe habits. Move your employees away from natural positive reinforcement, such as risk-taking. The risk-taker gets the benefit of saved time and effort and perhaps also a lack of discomfort. The key to replacing unsafe behaviour with safe habits is positive reinforcement.
- Keep in mind that the positive reinforcement of safe behaviours needs to be given when it is observed, immediately and frequently, and in an appropriate manner. You can start saying, "Hey, you did a great job here." Make sure that everybody knows when they are doing a good job! Next thing you know, everyone is working safer because we want to make sure that we're actually getting that praise and getting the recognition we deserve.
- Be sure that you don’t focus all your positive reinforcement on the hourly employee. Include supervisors and management as well. Remember, changing the safety culture begins with management. While hourly employees are reinforced for safe practices, adhering to safety training, and looking out for each other on the worksite, Managers are awarded positive reinforcement for their supportive behaviours. Looking for ways to bring the “small wins” from management into the Safety Moments will add to the cohesiveness of your safety culture.
You're going to see that it actually changes the way that your people feel about safety, feel about what they're doing in the day, and it's going to add a massive amount of positivity.
In this week's video, David Brennan, Founder of Safety Evolution safety software chats about how celebrating the small wins will change your safety culture.
Key Ideas for Safety Moments To Use At Your Safety Meeting or Toolbox Talk
“Safety Moments” should be just that….. moments…. short and engaging. In the beginning, keep your content general. As everyone becomes familiar with Safety Moments, encourage input and suggestions from your workforce.
Here are some keys to a successful, positive Safety Moment.
- Let everyone know why you chose the topic. How is it relevant now? Can you relate your topic to recent training, an incident review? Does the topic come by way of an employee suggestion? It is important to let your staff know that you are listening. Perhaps you may choose a topic that is related to the season or day-to-day life beyond the workplace.
- Keep your focus narrow. Remember .. this is a “small rudder” moment! You only have a few minutes for your topic. Make sure you are engaging and stay on point.
- The Safety Moment is the opportunity for positive reinforcement. Keep the tone conversational. Your goal is to move away from the negative. This is a time to acknowledge, not dictate, behaviour!
- Be sure to provide takeaways. Present ways to implement your topic so that it can be applied on or off the job site and workplace.
- The Safety Moment is a great way to create a dialogue with your team. Encourage input and feedback.
Finding a Safety Moment topic. Where and how?
- Your on-the-job observations will give you loads of content for the Safety Moments. Change up the presentation as often as possible during each safety meeting.
- Look for video options, handouts, and creative ways to make your Safety Moment memorable.
- Listen to your employees and build your team with suggestions for content. Value each employee’s story!
- Use “what is wrong with this picture?” and then give it a positive spin by acknowledging the safe habits you see on the job site.
- Check out our resource for downloading a Free Toolbox Talk Download Package to always have on hand!
Safety Moments Examples - Encourage Behaviour Based Safety Observations In The Workplace
In conjunction with the positive reinforcement of the Safety Moment, encourage written input in the form of Behaviour-Based Observations (BBOs). BBOs are simply observations of behaviour as employees perform their normal tasks. Check out our blog post on BBO's Shifting From Stressful To Meaningful for more insight!
These observations can be of a formal nature or just a quick note that identifies positive behaviour. If a formal BBO is being conducted, let the employees know when they are being observed. Offer positive feedback after the observation.
Use the BBO form, like you find in Safety Evolution software or provide a dropbox for paper slips so employees can give “kudos” when a fellow employee makes safety-based decisions, mentors another employee or follows safety protocol. Knowing that our actions are valued by our peers encourages trust and builds connections with safe habits.
As you implement Safety Moments in your safety meetings, remember, these two things:
- Your workforce offers a wealth of safety examples and experiences for you to draw on.
- Positive reinforcement is the small rudder that directs your safety culture.
Using our framework for the Perfect Safety Meeting, start celebrating small wins with your team today and build a more positive safety culture.
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