Creating a safety culture in the workplace is highly beneficial for everyone, but it’s no easy task. It can be quite a feat to get started in your workplace. Crystal Turner-Moffatt, a safety and security manager at WSP, shares her experience in building safety cultures within the workplace.
The Difficulties in Getting Started
Crystal’s philosophy, as described in her presentation, “Safety Cop to Safety Coach—Tools for the Journey to Becoming an Effective Safety Professional,” explains that most people want to try to approach safety like a cop—wanting to enforce rules and issue penalties. She thinks that the best approach is to act as a coach rather than a cop, though. By teaching and leading, you can affect the culture more than by policing.
“Getting people to buy in is the hardest part,” said Crystal. The difficulty lies in convincing everyone—employees, management, and just every single person—to value the cause and to trust the company’s efforts. According to her, if everyone buys into the culture and creates a network of trust and respect, you don’t have to do the policing anymore.
Getting Employees to “Buy in” to Your Program
So how exactly do you overcome this problem? How can you persuade everyone to hop on board? Crystal’s advice: “Get to know the people on the sites, so they can trust you when you say something is unsafe; they know you’ve done the research, you know the vernacular, you know the job.”
You may not have the full experience and expertise that the employees have, but you should at least know enough to talk to them about what they’re doing. Crystal mentions that you can get a buy-in this way. Connecting with employees on site and letting them know that you know the employees and the job is a great way to build trust, earn respect, and just learn.
The Future of Safety
Crystal herself continues to grow with her company and to gain new knowledge and expertise through certification programs and continuous learning. She also sees the safety field growing every day around her. “I think the future of safety looks bright with young people coming into the field,” she said, “getting even down to high schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools telling young people about safety; because it’s something that usually people say they fell into—they didn’t know about it. It’s the awareness that’s coming about.”
It’s these younger employees and technological innovations combined that will really make an impact. Crystal has noticed an increase in possibilities such as virtual reality at safety conferences all over and a lot of excitement coming from young adults surrounding the technological implications. With new technologies, new applications, and fresh ideas for engagement, creating a safety culture is easier and more effective today than it ever has been before. Safety professionals like Crystal are sharing their knowledge and experiences from different job-sites to help all organizations optimize their safety efforts today and continuing into the future.