Encouraging Safe Behavior (Part I)

This month, I will be focusing on encouraging safe behavior both in the home and at work. Safety begins at home, but it spills over to all aspects of our lives. When you are safe at home, you are safe at work. Today’s posting will be the first in a several part series to encourage safer behavior and what we can do, either as employers OR employees to maintain a safe environment.

In order to make a plan to fix any unsafe behavior, you need to figure out what needs to change. For example, if your worker’s compensation claims are through the roof, what is the cause of most of the claims? Make a list of all the issues that you have found from claims or incidents.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with all the information that you have collected. Do not allow yourself to become overloaded. Once you figure out what your most pressing issues are from your list of unsafe behavior, choose the worst offender to fix first. Only choose one issue to fix at a time, especially if you are new at creating a safety plan. If you choose more than one, it can be difficult for employees to keep up with all the new goals set forth. Choosing one issue to fix and one goal to spotlight keeps employees focused on that one goal. It also keeps the one goal at the forefront of everyone’s mind, thus making it more realistic that it will be achieved.

Set SMART goals to bring the number of claims or incidents relating to your reason for the highest number of claims down to zero. Remember, SMART stands for:

Specific: Statements such as “lower claims for ankle injuries” only give a broad, generic goal. In order to really accomplish lowering claims for ankle injuries, the goal needs to be more specific. A better goal would be: “Lower ankle injuries by 40% in the next six months.” The goal states exactly what needs to happen – lower ankle injuries by 40%.

Measurable: The goal above, “Lower ankle injures by 40% in the next six months,” provides an amount that the goal setter can really analyze at the end of the time period. In this case, the goal setter has a measurable number that needs to be met during a certain time period. This goal is measurable. The setter can review the goal at the end of the six months, and determine if it was successful by asking “Did we lower ankle injuries by 40% in the last six months?”

Attainable: Make sure that your goals are not over the top. Nothing kills morale faster than unrealistic expectations. If you have had an enormous amount of accidents and injuries this year, a goal like “No accidents for the rest of the year” is not realistic or attainable. However, if you were to make a goal that says, “Decrease accidents and injuries by 50% by the end of the year,” the goal is more attainable. It gives employees a goal and time frame in which to meet said goal. Ultimately, a goal like this one is more apt to be successful because employees will believe that it is realistic and achievable.

Realistic: Again, I’m going to use the same example in the above section (Attainable) because they go hand in hand. If your goals aren’t attainable or realistic, they aren’t going to happen. “Decrease accidents and injuries by 50% by the end of the year” gives employees a challenge, but not so much of a challenge that they are discouraged and morale is lowered.

Time Measurable: The surefire way to kill a goal is to keep it open ended. Goals cannot be met if there is no end in sight. Let’s take a look at our very first goal example: Lower claims for ankle injuries. This is an open ended goal. There isn’t a really good way to measure this goal. What if we lower ankle injuries one month, but increase ankle injuries the next? Has the goal been met or not? It’s a wishy-washy way to create a goal without much success attached to it. The second example, “Lower ankle injures by 40% in the next six months,” has a time frame attached to it. At the end of six months, the goal setter can review the goal and determine if it has been met or not. At the end of the six month period, the goal setter can ask, “Did we lower ankle injuries by 40% in the last six months?” This goal has a time frame attached to it, therefore, it can be measured, and deemed either successful or not.

Setting goals can be complicated. It can be hard to determine what is realistic and attainable without being too easy. Be sure to challenge your employees when making goals. Setting goals that are too easy is just as much of a morale killer as setting goals that are too difficult to reach. So to review today’s post, figure out what needs to change in your environment. Then, make SMART goals to see small changes. Remember, a more specific small goal (Lower ankle injuries by 40% in six months) is better than a broad goal for large change (No more ankle injuries).

Be safe out there!