Employees and team leaders want to be part of cohesive, productive teams, but that isn’t possible if they work in unsafe environments. A warning sign and neon hats may not be enough to prevent accidents.
It’s also essential for workplace leaders to use S.P.A.R.K. to build a culture of safety at their company.
What Is S.P.A.R.K.?
According to the National Safety Council, over 4.2 million workplace injuries in 2021 required medical consultation. People shouldn’t worry about getting injured at work or taking time off to recover. In addition to measures like wet floor signs and training sessions, leaders can use S.P.A.R.K. to keep safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
S.P.A.R.K. is an acronym that helps people take ownership of their safety in conversations and actions. It stands for:
- Sharing Purpose
- Relevant Knowledge
Those three things are crucial to maintaining a safe workplace. People must know how to protect themselves and their team members and understand why those measures exist. S.P.A.R.K. conversations explain how everyone can take ownership of their safety by understanding dangers and the many ways to prevent them.
People who know how to protect themselves can build a culture of safety. The knowledge leads to positive actions with more hands-on focus during daily routines.
Ways to Create a Safety Culture
People in management roles and other workplace leadership positions can create a workplace safety culture by trying these tips.
1. Engage in S.P.A.R.K. Conversations
Imagine a new employee who needs to operate a forklift. They know to wear their hard hat and stay inside the vehicle while it moves. However, they don’t understand why the forks need to lower before the forklift drives to a new location.
Not understanding the motivation behind safety procedures could lead to property damage or physical harm to other employees when that new hire operates a forklift for the first time.
Daily conversations and training instruction become more effective with a S.P.A.R.K. perspective. It encourages leaders to explain what’s potentially dangerous, what could go wrong and why safety precautions are essential for everyone. People will better understand the workplace safety culture and participate in it more effectively.
2. Get Everyone Involved
No one is too important to skip safety training programs, policies or procedures. That might seem like a foundational idea of any workplace, but people can get caught up in their titles and positions. Long-term employees must maintain workplace safety procedures, just like any new hire.
Someone who worked with the same company for years without having an accident might feel confident enough to skip essential steps in their job. When returning a company vehicle for the night, they might skip activating the emergency brake or rolling up the windows before clocking out. The result could be vehicle theft.
Everyone should know they play an essential role in maintaining a safe workplace, no matter their position with the company or how long they’ve been there. Recurring training sessions required for all employees are another excellent resource to make that happen.
3. Emphasize How to Report Concerns
New and long-standing employees should always know how to report safety concerns. People in leadership can encourage them to make reports of any size and walk through the steps to do so during training sessions
S.P.A.R.K. conversations can also include reminders to file reports whenever necessary since it features a step about sharing relevant knowledge with those on the team. Talking about it frequently makes it feel less like a taboo subject. People will immediately spot and report potential concerns, enforcing the safety culture at every turn.
4. Shut Down Retaliation Possibilities
Even though the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) prohibits employer retaliation against people filing safety concerns, people can still have concerns about retaining their jobs. They may worry about social pressure to stay quiet, so the employer must remind everyone they are welcome to report any issues.
Frequent reminders will make everyone safer, which is why S.P.A.R.K. conversations are helpful. They make safety a casual discussion while prioritizing its importance. People who can talk freely about the topic will also feel comfortable reporting concerns.
5. Encourage Continual Feedback
Employees should feel valued for their work and voice. If they can provide feedback on specific processes or new procedures they feel present a safety problem, leadership can enact changes to eliminate any injury risks immediately. Feedback can be verbal or written, depending on what makes each worker feel comfortable.
Benefits of Workplace Safety Cultures
Companies benefit in many ways after starting regular S.P.A.R.K. conversations and refining workplace safety procedures. It’s never too late to place renewed emphasis on an organization’s safety culture.
1. Employees Feel Empowered
Happy employees feel equally valued and engaged. It’s challenging for someone to feel like their employer appreciates them if their safety concerns are never addressed. Better relationships happen when professionals work through safety issues together. Even the most minor potential problems deserve the same attention as the biggest because it shows the company’s commitment to keeping its team members safe.
Happy team members are also 44% more likely to stay longer than workers who feel neglected. Instead of managing an expensive hiring and training process, companies get to save money and retain the best employees because the workplace environment promotes their well-being.
2. Companies Gain Better Reputations
People don’t just apply for jobs based on pay rates or responsibilities. They also research which companies treat their employees well. Emphasizing a culture of safety enhances that business’s reputation. More job seekers will apply for open positions if they know their potential employer cares for their safety.
3. Teams Become More Productive
S.P.A.R.K. conversations help people understand why they take each step in safety and workplace procedures. The extra information amplifies their motivation, which maintains higher productivity levels. A team’s efficiency also won’t fall because each team member minimizes everyone’s injury or accident risk.
Use S.P.A.R.K. to Enhance Workplace Safety
Engaging in S.P.A.R.K. conversations can help any workplace leader build a safety culture at their company. The new approach to safety discussions amplifies everyone’s understanding with extra information and encouragement. Workplaces become better environments for everyone when people feel free to report concerns and ask questions.
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