Implementing a new occupational health and safety program includes many aspects that safety managers and ownership must think about: what is currently in place? why is change needed? and what does my company need to do to be compliant?
Changes in legislation, general best practices (ie. pandemic programs), and changes in scope or work location can create the need to implement a new or updated workplace safety program.
Creating a new safety program will inevitably create more work as well as changes to the day-to-day operations in your workplace. One thing you don’t want to have on top of everything else is workers’ resistance to change.
Why People Resist Change to Safety Programs
There are many reasons why people will resist change when it comes to new safety programs. Some of these reasons are:
- Employees do not understand why the change is needed
- Employees do not want to learn something new
- Poor safety culture
When a new safety program is implemented it is important for people to follow and understand what is being put in place or it can lead to a near miss, injury, or worse. When people resist change, it can show up in many ways such as not paying attention in meetings, withholding feedback or providing only negative feedback, not following the program, and encouraging others to not follow the program. Therefore it is critical to get employees input and buy-in to ensure a successful health and safety program rollout.
Occupational Health and Safety Program Rollout Process For Management
There are right ways and wrong ways to introduce new safety programs with workers. The first and most important thing is communication. As management, it is your job to let employees know what is going on and why changes are happening.
A good methodology in order to introduce new elements to a health and safety process is to bring everyone together for a meeting. This way you can talk directly to them, and they can bring up any concerns they have.
Some tips to make this a successful health & safety meeting include:
- Always bring FREE coffee and donuts to the introduction meeting.
- Show enthusiasm and confidence with the new program (if management does not take it seriously neither will the employees).
- Ensure the employees understand that the input they give will ensure this safety program does its job of ensuring they get home safely after everyshift.
- Let the workers know they do not need to memorize the Safety Program; it will always be available for reference.
- Provide examples of why this safety program is being put in place, possibly incidents, legislative changes, or other reasons causing the need for a new safety program. Safety is important and sometimes people need to be reminded of this.
- Remind workers that having a solid safety program and possible progression towards COR/SECOR means there may be more clients which leads to a better future for the company and the employees.
- If a question is asked and you are unable to answer it, let the employee know that you are unsure and will investigate. Ensure to get back to them with and answer.
Building a Strong Safety Culture
Open lines of communication are always critical when introducing something new; this will lead to employees speaking freely about any questions or concerns they may have which will lead to them understanding the safety program better. Which in turn will help management know where people may become confused or may point out flaws in the safety program that needs to be addressed.
Having a good culture is not just about the employees, it is also about how management responds to safety-related issues. Management needs to lead by example, hold the team accountable, and have good communication. If you want to learn more about safety culture, please check out How to Build a Strong Safety Culture.
A few other things that management can do to implement a strong safety culture are:
- Provide proper training on the new safety program. This will ensure the employees are aware and fully understand the program.
- Ensure that employees have the proper resources such as time to complete any possible training, any new equipment that may be needed, as well as access to the safety program for future reference.
- Properly plan. Make sure nothing is rushed and employees have time to address any questions or concerns.
- Show support for the new Safety Program, management commitment is a key factor in getting worker buy-in.
- Stay employee focused. Make sure the management hears the concerns and reminds employees that the safety program will be rolled out as swiftly and smoothly as possible.
If your company needs a new safety program to comply with legislation, client requirements (pre-qualifications), or to start working towards COR certification, please visit our webpage on Safety Manual development. You can also see a list of Workforce Compliance Safety’s most popular courses.