Employee safety—it’s listed as a top priority for most cooperatives, but, let’s face it, building a co-op safety culture is often easier said than done. Mandating that workers complete safety trainings each year won’t, in and of itself, cultivate a culture where each employee owns the role of being a cooperative safety leader.
Rather, growing a culture of workplace safety requires close coordination between a co-op’s safety representative and communications team as well as ongoing internal communications campaigns that focus on targeted safety topics, among other efforts. If you’re looking to evolve your cooperative’s safety culture or are building a safety program from scratch, you must develop strategic safety communications campaigns. The following six essential tips will show you how to get started.
If your co-op tracks data regarding workplace accidents and near misses, analyze that data to help guide your safety communications efforts. For example, by analyzing the cooperative’s accident data from the past six months, you may discover that nearly 75 percent of employee claims were for sprains and strains. That data could lead you to release a series of videos that teach employees how to stretch before work, to develop an employee education campaign on how to properly move through repetitive tasks, and more.
Accident data can also be used to grab employee attention and help workers understand their individual role in maintaining a safe work environment. For example, perhaps the co-op’s safety data shows that 80 percent of accidents over the past year happened in the morning. You could include a snippet about this data within an internal communications campaign along with information on why it’s important for employees to minimize distractions and focus on work tasks. The data may also lead you to release pop up messages that appear on employee computers at the start of each workday reminding them to minimize distractions and avoid complacency.
Safety incident data is also essential to track before, during and after safety communications campaigns to help you define your communications goals as well as track goal progress. By tying your campaign goals to incident data and regularly analyzing the data, you’ll be given a clear visual on whether the communications efforts are working.
Want to learn more about using data to improve internal communications? Check out our playbook, How to Use Data to Improve Internal Communications. It offers an easy and effective step-by-step process for developing data-driven communications plans and also includes a series of useful planning templates.
Communications plans are essential tools that will guide your safety communications efforts. A co-op safety communications plan is an end-to-end strategic plan that outlines a course of action for developing and delivering the right safety message through the right channel to an intended audience to achieve a specific goal or set of goals. Detailed safety communications plans keep you organized, give stakeholders a clear view of the planned work and help guide projects toward successful outcomes.
At its most basic level, a safety communication plan should answer the following questions:
These are simple questions with often complex answers that a documented plan can help clarify. Check out our free Communications Planning Guide and Checklist to learn an easy step-by-step process for creating effective communications plans.
One concept that doesn’t often come to mind when developing employee safety communications is audience segmentation. It’s typically assumed that all employees must always receive the same internal communications message. However, this simply isn’t the case.
As an example, office workers typically encounter different safety hazards than field crews or production line workers. Rather than blanketing every workgroup with the same safety messaging, dive deeper to pinpoint the safety topics that are most pertinent to each department and deliver targeted messaging to each segment. Doing this will prevent employees from tuning out the co-op’s safety updates. It will also help ensure everyone is receiving the information they need.
Here are a few ways to deliver segmented messages:
Within your safety communications plan, outline the project’s stakeholders and specify how often the stakeholders will be updated on the plan’s progress. Send the plan to all involved stakeholders and, of course, stick to the details that are outlined within the plan when you set the project into motion. For example, if the communications plan specifies that stakeholders will receive monthly progress updates, ensure you’re meeting those monthly milestones.
Here are a few stakeholders that may need to be looped into your safety communications efforts:
The process of delivering effective co-op safety communications to your workforce can become quite complex. Working closely with stakeholders will help guide the communications efforts toward success and will help you avoid missing steps along the way.
Delivering a safety message one time through one channel won’t move the needle. Likewise, delivering a safety message 10 times through the same channel probably won’t achieve much either. Increase the chance that employees will receive, understand, and act upon a safety message by using a multi-channel approach.
For example, perhaps the goal of your safety communications campaign is to reduce employee sprains and strains by 20 percent this year. Your planned, multi-channel efforts for the year could then include releasing blog posts, videos, newsletter content, posters, supervisor talking points, and more, all covering tips and trainings for preventing sprains and strains.
Again, outline all details regarding your planned safety campaign efforts within a detailed communications plan. The plan will act as your guide, keeping efforts on track and preventing any missed steps.
Fostering a culture of workplace safety requires co-op employees to understand and accept their role of being safety leaders. Workers will be much more likely to tune into and act upon your safety campaign messaging if they know their voice is being heard. Whenever possible, invite employee feedback regarding the co-op’s safety culture.
Here are a few ways to encourage employee feedback:
Building and releasing effective safety communications campaigns is an essential step in growing your cooperative’s safety culture. Set your safety communications efforts up for success by analyzing historical safety incident data, creating detailed communications plans, segmenting campaign messaging, working closely with stakeholders, using a multi-channel approach and inviting employee feedback.
Looking for more tips on how to use internal communications to evolve your co-op’s culture? Check out the book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”. Also, learn more about our Communications Consultation and Coaching Services. We’d love to learn more about your safety communications needs and help you develop impactful plans.
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