The Competitive Advantage of Safety Engagement

June 3, 2024 | Activate Learning | 5 min read

Every year, I look forward to National Safety Month because it tends to bolster our collective commitment to compliance and safety at work. As compliance professionals, it is also an opportunity to reaffirm our role as guardians of safety in the workplace, ensuring that we promote an environment where workplace safety is paramount.

Last June, we covered topics like emergency preparednessslips, trips, and fallsheat-related illnesses, and hazard recognition. Topics on the docket this year include safety engagement, roadway safety, risk reduction, and slips, trips, and falls (again!).

This week, let’s talk about safety engagement.

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Enhancing Safety Engagement in Your Organization

“Safety engagement” is a broad term referring to the active involvement of employees in workplace safety practices, processes, and initiatives. Beyond following basic safety rules and requirements, safety engagement includes the effort employees dedicate to workplace safety because they understand its importance. 

Here’s what it might look like in your organization:

  • Employees taking ownership and responsibility for their own safety and that of their coworkers
  • Proactively identifying and reporting hazards, near-misses, and unsafe conditions or behaviors
  • Actively participating in safety meetings, trainings, audits, and improvement initiatives
  • Openly communicating safety concerns, providing suggestions, and collaborating on solutions
  • Going beyond compliance by consistently making safe choices even when no one is watching
  • Demonstrating care for the company’s safety mission and values through their actions

Employees are encouraged to assess their work areas for hazards and play an active role in mitigating those hazards. They have the authority to speak up — and stop production, if necessary — when they spot safety violations or unsafe work processes, and they encourage their colleagues to engage in safe work practices, as well.

The key benefit of safety engagement is that it creates a culture where employees are not just following rules, but are emotionally invested in safety as a core value. This leads to improved safety performance through increased hazard awareness, error prevention, and safe work practices.

Engaged employees view safety not just as a job requirement, but as a personal responsibility and commitment to protecting themselves and others. This discretionary effort is critical for achieving exceptional safety outcomes and a strong safety culture within your organization.

Building a Culture of Safety for Employees

Here are some of the competitive advantages that your organization may benefit from as you build a safety culture on the back of employee safety engagement:

  • Reduced costs from less accidents and injuries. Effective safety training reduces the frequency and severity of workplace incidents, resulting in lower costs related to workers’ compensation claims, medical expenses, legal fees, and lost productivity. This directly improves profitability and competitiveness.

With Skillsoft’s EHS compliance solution, Scott’s Miracle-Gro reduced recordable incidents by 75 percent. Read how.

  • Increased productivity. Well-trained employees are less likely to be injured or make mistakes that lead to downtime or rework. Safety training promotes efficient work practices, reducing waste and enhancing productivity levels.
  • Improved employee morale and retention. Companies that invest in safety training demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being. This leads to higher job satisfaction, improved morale, and better retention of skilled workers – providing a competitive edge in attracting and keeping top talent.
  • Enhanced reputation and brand image. A strong safety culture and record can positively impact a company’s reputation, making it more attractive to customers, investors, and potential employees. This reputational advantage can translate into increased business opportunities and market share.
  • Regulatory compliance. Comprehensive safety training helps ensure compliance with occupational health and safety regulations, avoiding costly fines, penalties, and legal issues that could disrupt operations and damage competitiveness.
  • Increased innovation. A safe work environment fosters an atmosphere of trust and open communication, encouraging employees to share ideas and suggestions for process improvements, leading to increased innovation and competitive advantages.

Workplace safety training reduces costs, improves productivity, boosts employee engagement and retention, enhances reputation, ensures compliance, and drives innovation – all of which contribute to a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Getting Executive Buy-In for Your Workplace Safety Program

Safety engagement is not something that only employees should demonstrate. Getting and maintaining executive buy-in and support for your EHS program is one of the most critical components in building a mature, scalable, and efficient compliance program.

Learn how Boyd Gaming has elevated the quality and consistency of its safety training for all employees at all locations – ultimately incorporating safety into its corporate culture.

Here’s what executive support can do for you:

  • Sets the tone. Support from your leadership team demonstrates a commitment to safety, setting the tone for your entire organization. When executives prioritize safety training, it sends a powerful message that safety is a core value and not just a compliance exercise.
  • Allocates resources. Leadership buy-in ensures adequate resources (financial, personnel, time, etc.) are allocated for effective safety training implementation and continuous improvement.
  • Encourages employee participation and buy-in. If employees see leadership actively supporting and participating in safety training, they are more likely to take it seriously and fully engage.

To get executive buy-in, here are just some of the strategies you might consider:

  • Highlight the true costs of workplace incidents, including productivity losses, higher insurance premiums, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. Present data showing how investing in safety training can mitigate these costs.
  • Explain how safety training aligns with the organization’s values, goals, and legal obligations. Frame it as a strategic imperative, not just a compliance requirement.
  • Involve executives in the safety training process, such as having them deliver opening remarks or participate in training sessions. Their visible involvement reinforces the importance of safety.
  • Leverage external trainers or consultants who can bring expertise, objectivity, and a fresh perspective to safety training, disrupting complacency.
  • Demonstrate the transferable benefits of safety training, such as improved risk awareness, decision-making, and communication skills that can benefit employees both at work and home.
  • By securing executive buy-in, you create a culture where safety is prioritized, resources are available, and employees are motivated to participate in safety training, ultimately reducing workplace incidents and associated costs

Learn more about how to get executive buy-in for your workplace safety program. 

Stay tuned for the next blog in this National Safety Month series on Monday, June 10.