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Published on March 1st, 2013 | by UC&D Magazine


Reinforcing Safe Behaviors: Risk Management

Most people are born with some safety sense. However, everyone needs to learn, re-learn, and be reminded of safe behaviors. It doesn’t matter how much previous training your employees have had. You will still need to retrain and orient your employees to the specific safety requirements of your company.

Start your new employees out with a safety orientation that reviews safe procedures and teaches them to control hazards they will face while working for your company. Even though they may have had similar safety training from another job, retraining is still essential. After orientation, allow new employees to adapt to their new work environment and give them on-the-job safety training. Employee orientation is a very critical part of a successful safety program. Early communications from the company should include the concept that we operate safe at this company; it is the way we do business.

Safety Meetings
Regular safety meetings give you the opportunity to review the same safety procedures and methods you taught at orientation and during on-the-job safety training. Your continual review in safety meetings helps employees remember and focus on safe ways of doing their work. Holding scheduled safety meetings also helps your employees realize that safe behavior is just as important as any other aspect of their work.

Daily Safety Messages
Daily safety messages give another opportunity to reinforce what is taught in your regular safety meetings. Give employees a safety message at the beginning of each shift. The message does not have to be lengthy; it can be a short reminder about a topic or behavior that will help the work day be safe. You can develop a list of important safety topics and your supervisors can select a topic each day.

Written Safety Program
Having a written safety program that covers safe procedures, describes unsafe conditions and behavior, and outlines the means to control hazards, provides safe behavior reinforcement. A written resource is valuable because it remains a consistent source of safety for all workers. Employees can turn to the written safety program to find, recall and relearn safe behaviors.

Safety Surveys
Completing regular and random safety surveys or audits to find and correct hazardous conditions and behavior also reinforces safe behavior. Involve your employees in the process. Bring the survey findings to your employees and seek their suggestions on preventing the recurrence of these hazards.

Safety Incentives
Providing safety incentives is another common way of reinforcing safe behavior. Rewarding safe behavior motivates workers to be careful and cautious. Motivated by goals to reduce the number and severity of accidents, to be accident free, etc., employees re-learn safe behavior. Safety incentives that are meaningful to employees have helped some employers reduce accident frequency and cost.

The use of signage is an important part of a safety program. Signs help to identify hazardous conditions and remind people to work safely. Warning/caution signs should be posted in places to help personnel identify hazardous work operations. Signs are an important part of emergency evacuation and personnel performing safety surveys should be looking for proper signage.

Line supervisors are critical to the success of your safety program. Supervisors who are trained in safe behavior and understand safety are in a good position to reinforce safe behavior. Supervisors who have the authority to stop and correct unsafe conditions and behavior are a tremendous asset because they can continually observe the workforce and the environment.

Preventative Maintenance
A preventative maintenance program reminds employees to maintain equipment in safe operating condition. Completing regular scheduled maintenance according to manufacturers’ specifications helps keeps machinery in good repair and teaches employees the importance of maintenance work. Safe behavior reinforcement is a continual process.


Greg Summerhays is Director of Public Relations at Workers Compensation Fund and has 12 years of experience with the firm. For more information regarding safety resources, visit wcfgroup.com/safety.


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