The number of fatal workplace injuries is unfortunately on the rise. This is why supervisors need to ensure their workplace is safe. But management can’t be present constantly. This is why you rely on staff members' reporting of any health and safety issues.
But do your staff members inform you of any hazards? They may not know how to report violations, are intimidated to report them, or may not even know they should report them.
Are you having difficulty talking to employees about injury and incident reporting? Here are 7 ways to promote the reporting of health and safety issues at work.
1. Make Reporting Easy
Is your safety reporting process tedious? If so, this can deter employees from reporting safety hazards. If you're updating safety strategies, this is one of the easiest changes you can make.
Online forms are recommended, but you can also use paper forms. If you do use paper forms, make sure they’re only a page long.
Only ask basic questions such as describing the issue, attaching or including pictures (use this as an optional section), and invite your employees to include any other comments (again, this should be optional).
What if you only require a letter? Don’t require your employee to list unnecessary information. Simply ask them to state the problem and include pictures if they have them.
Always make safety report submission available after work hours. This way, staff members don’t have to worry about interrupting their work. You can also open up a time at the end of the day to report incidents and injuries.
2. Associate No Consequences With Reporting
Another main reason why employees don’t report safety hazards is they feel intimidated or think there will be repercussions. Staff members feel they will be blacklisted or may even lose their job. They may also fear they will face discrimination or get their colleagues in trouble.
Spotting safety hazards shouldn't have repercussions. Open your door to any feedback and ensure your staff trusts you. Make it clear there are no consequences to reporting incidents and hazards.
For best results, make incident reporting applications and letters anonymous. You can also create online forms so staff members can report incidents from the comfort of their own home. This way, more employees will feel more secure about reporting any violations.
3. Create a Safety Culture
Even with anonymous incident reports, your staff won’t know the importance of reporting safety concerns if you don’t make it a priority in the workplace.
Developing a strong safety culture has a myriad of benefits. All employees will focus on their own safety as well as the safety of their colleagues, giving managers peace of mind when they can’t supervise the floor.
How do you create a safety culture? First, discuss workplace safety openly. Train your employees on the most common injuries in your industry and their causes. You can also open the floor to employees, suggesting ways to make the workplace safer.
Training your staff is also important. Undergo regular training on a variety of health and safety topics. This way, they’re always knowledgeable about core safety topics and how to prevent workplace injuries.
4. Avoid Drug Testing (If Possible)
This is a debated piece of advice, especially since 80% of employers are concerned about employee opioid use. But many employees don’t report injuries or other safety incidents because they’re concerned they will be tested for drugs.
Previously, post-accident testing was required. However, the OSHA has stricter mandates on post-accident drug testing.
Evidence shows employees are intimidated by the drug testing rules, even if they don’t take illegal substances. Because of this rule, employees may not report accidents and injuries.
Post-accident drug testing should be properly drafted and employees should know their rights. Don’t force the one who reported the incident to undergo a drug test. If the employee who reported an incident is injured, only test them if you suspect drugs were involved.
5. Get Employees Involved in Audits and Inspections
When you conduct a safety audit, know that your employees are the ones using the equipment every day. Because of this fact, they should participate in workplace inspections and safety audits.
For example, if you’re inspecting a certain piece of equipment, your staff member will be more likely to identify a problem with the equipment or identify other hazards. This can also be the place where staff members can suggest advancements, such as new personal protective equipment.
You can also list specific safety hazards you’re identifying and invite staff members to report them before the inspection. This way, you can gather data ahead of time.
Keep in mind, safety inspections and audits are generally a positive occurrence. You’re trying to make the workplace safer for your staff members. Inform them of this fact so they don’t feel intimidated about speaking up.
6. Not All Reporting Is Mandatory
While you want employees to report any unsafe incidents, understand that reporting isn’t always mandatory. If you take out the necessity of reporting, employees may feel more comfortable about reaching out.
When is reporting necessary? These depend on local and state laws. However, most jurisdictions require employees to report injuries within a few hours of occurrence.
7. Reward Employees for Reporting
This advice is debated; if your staff members want to seek out an easy bonus, they may falsely report an injury or a piece of equipment that works fine. However, there are times when rewarding employees for reporting incidents can work.
First, recognize employees for reporting violations. Even when done in private, employee recognition can boost motivation and productivity.
There are also incentives that are free or cheap. Examples include a double break time, a day off pass, paid breakfast or lunch, prizes, lottery tickets, and gift cards.
Encourage Employees to Report Health and Safety Issues
As a supervisor, you may not always see when health and safety issues occur. That’s why you rely on employee safety and incident reporting. If you suspect employees aren’t reporting workplace hazards, there are creative ways to encourage incident reporting.
You can also ensure you have a safe workplace with regular risk assessments. This way, you don’t have to rely on employee incident reporting. Are you looking for the best risk assessment service? Take a look at our assessment services.
Gordon Padera has 30+ years of industry experience, and is an executive vice president at GB. Find him on LinkedIn.