How to strengthen safety awareness
in the industrial environment

What is the essence of safety awareness? Creating a culture where safety is not just a policy, but a real part of the way of working. It is challenging but crucial to create an environment where every employee and third-party feels actively involved. Multiple statistics show that industries with high safety awareness have significantly lower accident rates. For example, a study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that workplaces with high safety awareness, reduce accidents by as much as 40%. We identify the major obstacles to achieving this and provide insight into how these challenges can be overcome.

1. Clear communication is at the heart of safety in industry

In an environment where one misinterpretation can lead to disastrous consequences, clarity of safety instructions is indispensable.
In industrial environments, unclear communication often manifests itself in jargon-filled instructions, excessive technical language or simply a lack of regular, clear safety updates. This problem is made worse when you are dealing with third parties, such as contractors or temporary workers, who may not be familiar with site-specific safety protocols. The risk here is twofold: not only are these people more likely to misunderstand safety procedures, but their lack of familiarity with the environment makes them more vulnerable to hazards.

To counteract this, industries must take a multifaceted approach to communication. This includes:

  • Simplify language: avoid technical jargon and ensure that safety instructions are clear and easy to understand.
  • Regular training and updates: hold regular training sessions and safety briefings to ensure that all employees, including third parties, are aware of the latest safety protocols.
  • Interactive communication channels: encourage a two-way communication avenue where employees can ask questions and provide feedback on safety issues. This can be facilitated through regular interactive safety meetings, suggestion boxes and digital communication platforms.
  • Visual aids: use visual aids such as signs, symbols and color codes that can overcome language barriers and provide clear, direct safety instructions.

By prioritizing clear communication, companies not only reduce the risk of accidents but also foster a safety culture where everyone feels informed, engaged and responsible for maintaining a safe work environment.

2. Training and education is not just paperwork

In the industrial sector, the biggest challenge in educating workers and third parties often doesn’t lies in the availability of safety rules, but in how they are given and involved. Traditional approaches, such as handing out a list of rules for signature, prove insufficient. Due to lack of time and/or motivation, not enough attention is paid. In other words, these methods often fail to engage employees, leading to a superficial understanding of safety practices. The key is to move from passive recognition to active participation in safety training.

  • Interactive and immersive training: step beyond the paperwork and implement training sessions that require active participation. This could include interactive workshops, hands-on safety exercises or even scenarios with role-plays that mimic real-life situations. The goal is for trainees not just to hear or read about safety, but to experience and react to it.
  • Mandatory participation and assessment: ensure that training sessions are not only offered but also mandatory, with assessments to measure understanding and retention. This approach ensures that everyone takes the training seriously and understands the material.
  • Continuous and contextual learning: safety training should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Update training content regularly to meet the latest safety standards and site-specific risks. Contextual training, tailored to workplace-specific risks and scenarios, is more effective than general training.
  • Create a culture of safety awareness: encourage a culture in the workplace where safety is everyone’s responsibility. This can be achieved by engaging employees in discussions about safety, encouraging them to share their experiences and giving recognition to those who exemplify good safety practices.

By transforming safety training from a passive activity into an engaging, mandatory and ongoing process, companies can significantly improve the safety awareness and readiness of their workforce.

3. Leadership commitment is more than just setting the standard

It is not enough for management to merely endorse safety policies; they must be actively involved and visibly committed to these practices. This visible leadership commitment is crucial to cultivating a culture where safety is taken seriously at every level.

  • Leading by example: management must not only talk about safety, but also demonstrate it through their actions. This can include participating with employees in safety training, following the same safety protocols and showing genuine interest in safety-related discussions and improvements.
  • Open-door policy on safety issues: encourage a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues directly to management. This approach helps identify potential risks early and shows that management values employee input on safety issues.
  • Regular safety tours: management should regularly participate in safety tours, not just as a formality, but as an opportunity to engage with employees, gain insight into their safety challenges and provide immediate support as needed.
  • Integrate into business objectives: safety should be integrated into key business objectives and discussed at management meetings alongside other important business metrics. This integration shows that safety is not an isolated issue, but a fundamental part of the company’s success.
  • Recognize and reward safety initiatives: implement a system that recognizes and rewards safe practices and innovative employee safety ideas. This not only motivates employees, but also reinforces the message that safety is valued at the highest levels of the organization.

By actively participating in and prioritizing safety, leadership can significantly impact an organization’s overall safety culture. This involvement goes beyond setting standards; it is about embedding safety into the DNA of the company’s operations and values.

4. Resources and support are the foundation of effective safety practices

Insufficient resources can significantly limit the effectiveness of safety programs, leading to gaps in safety measures and increased risks. What should be considered?

  • Adequate safety equipment: it is fundamental that all employees have access to the necessary safety equipment. This goes beyond simply providing the equipment; it also includes maintaining, regularly updating and training workers in its effective use.
  • Dedicated safety personnel: it is critical to have a team or individuals dedicated to safety management. These professionals can focus on developing, implementing and monitoring safety protocols and staying abreast of the latest safety trends and regulations.
  • Budget allocation for safety: safety should be a line item in the budget, not an afterthought. Allocating a specific budget for safety initiatives ensures that these programs are not the first to be cut when financial constraints arise.
  • Regular safety audits: conducting regular safety audits helps identify resource gaps and areas for improvement. These audits should assess not only physical resources, but also the effectiveness of safety training and protocols.
  • Leveraging technology for safety: investing in the latest safety technology can yield significant benefits. From advanced personal protective equipment to safety management software, technology can enhance safety measures and streamline safety processes.

By ensuring that the right resources and support are in place, companies can build a robust security infrastructure.

5. Cultivate an in-depth safety culture through awareness and understanding

The foundation stone of any effective safety culture lies in awareness and understanding of safety principles among all members of the organization, including third parties. It’s not just about knowing the safety protocols; it’s about understanding their meaning and the role each individual plays in maintaining a safe work environment.

  • Comprehensive safety induction: develop an in-depth safety induction program that goes beyond basic training on protocols. This program should focus on instilling a sense of responsibility and understanding the “why” behind each safety rule. It is crucial that this induction is not just a formality, but an engaging and informative session that resonates with new employees.
  • Tell stories and real-life examples: use stories and real incidents to illustrate the importance of safety. Sharing stories about past accidents or near misses can be a powerful tool for highlighting the real-world implications of safety lapses.
  • Interactive learning platforms: use interactive learning platforms that allow employees to explore safety scenarios and make decisions in a controlled environment. This approach helps reinforce security concepts and their practical applications.
  • Feedback and continuous improvement: encourage employee and third-party feedback on safety protocols and training. This feedback can be invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and ensuring that safety training remains relevant and effective.
  • Safety as a shared value: promote the idea that safety is a shared value and a collective responsibility. This can be achieved through regular safety meetings, safety suggestion programs and involving employees in safety decision-making processes.

By focusing on building a deep understanding and awareness of safety, organizations can create a more proactive and engaged safety culture.

Onyx One is an advanced SaaS solution for contractor management that integrates essential safety principles into a user-friendly system. The platform supports a structured approach to contractor onboarding that focuses on training and safety awareness. This makes us a crucial partner in creating and maintaining a robust safety culture within your organization. Book a short demo now in Nikolaï’s schedule to gain insight into how Onyx One works.

Geschatte leestijd: 8 minutes