Safety Commitment Doesn’t Exist Without Questions
You are not interested if you don’t ask! Managers can show safety commitment strategically by asking simple questions. They can show employees they care by responding to concerns. The power of a question is a great technique to demonstrate strategic visibility. Developing leadership skills in this area is important.
When is safety commitment real?
Safety commitment does not exist without visibility. The commitment becomes real when leaders develop an intense focus on critical safety processes. That takes planning. Questions can increase intensity about a topic. They can prompt a response. Leaders can demonstrate their conviction in strategic ways.
Where do you spend your time? The most critical point you need to remember about strategic visibility is that it does not have to cost money. Your presence in the right safety-related processes demonstrates what is important to you. Employees have to see your interest with your questions! If you do not ask safety related questions, you are not interested.
For example, new employees form opinions in the first couple of hours they are on site. This is a perfect opportunity for site managers to set the safety tone by meeting with them. Take the opportunity to communicate safety expectations in person. Ask individuals about their personal safety. Intentional interaction with employees during safety meetings, pre-job meetings, and audits shows an employee safety is important to you.
Ask safety-related questions. Workers know your interest by the questions you ask but you may not know what to ask. When leaders balance management participation with decisive action, they visibly demonstrate safety is important.
Sample questions you can ask:
1. What are the critical steps in your job?
2. What is the worst thing that could happen?
3. How do you prevent the “worst” thing from happening?
4. How can I help you prevent a potential injury?
5. Do you feel like you get the proper safety training?
6. Do you feel like you get the proper instructions to perform tasks safely?
7. Do you feel comfortable stopping work if a hazard is present?
8. How do people around you demonstrate their commitment to safety?
9. Do you have the appropriate tools to complete your work safely?
10. Do you believe that all incidents (injuries, near misses, first aids, etc.) can be prevented?
11. Is there anything safety-related you would like for me to evaluate?
12. If you could make one safety improvement, what would you do?
Visible management commitment is the cornerstone to building a successful safety culture, and it is a mark that distinguishes a culture. Our words and actions project our commitment. People will never know safety is important to you if you do not talk about it one on one with them. Great managers learn to ask the right safety questions! They learn where they can be strategically visible with safety. People know you care because you ASK QUESTIONS.
Walk the Talk
The VPPPA Leader Magazine, Fall 2014