How to encourage agricultural workers to get serious about safety.
You’ve gone through the process, performed your researched, compared your options, invested time and money into your chosen safety systems. Now what?
You understand the importance of health and safety as an agricultural employer, but how do you motivate your farm workers to make safety a priority in the workplace?
Tackling worker adoption takes time, we are sure you’ve heard the saying 'old habits die hard'. Introducing a new approach to safety will be no different, however we have compiled a list of best practices to help you and your team re-evaluate your commitment to safety in the workplace.
Get serious! Motivate your workers about the importance of safety.
Take the lead and keep it positive.
Workers will take your lead on safety so its important to make safety part of your workplace culture. It’s not just what you say, it’s what you do that speaks volumes. Your leadership team will set the standard by providing a supportive learning environment, championing your safety program. In the beginning, focus should be on worker encouragement through positive and constructive feedback rather than strict consequences.
Have you considered how you will demonstrate your commitment to safety and communicate expectations when workers first start with you? If not, it’s time to review your onboarding documents as well as reinforcing this as part of your daily operations and training.
Give your workers ownership over their safety.
Discuss with your workers how they stay safe day to day, show them, teach them and hold them accountable for what you need them to do. You will find that when workers have an active role in their workplace health and safety, their attitude and the importance of safety develops. Although you are encouraging a supportive environment as your workers get serious about farm safety, that does not mean you should ignore bad practices.
Provide open communication between your leadership team and workers, be diligent and address your concerns, but be clear on the impacts on their co-workers and themselves.
Explain risks associated with your industry, machinery and tasks so they understand what can hurt them and how to stay safe. If you see something that isn’t safe, act on it. Pick up the hose across a walkway. If a worker is carrying a heavy load alone, assist them and take the time to educate them on manual handling techniques.
Promote a reporting culture that supports your health and safety practices.
This is an important point: don’t ask your workers for feedback and then ignore it. Acknowledge and promote worker feedback as part of your safety practices. If someone provides an observation with actionable improvements, they deserve to be recognised. And encourage workers to report hazards and incidents – if you don’t know about it, you can’t address it.
Get your workers involved in the decision-making process, where possible. This could be utilising time as part of a meeting where workers can recognise their achievements in keeping each other safe. This time also allows you to demonstrate the benefits as well as the results of those efforts.
In order for your workers to take safety seriously, they need to be motivated.
Safety is an all day, everyday thing and if you take it seriously, your workers will too. Creating new habits takes time, always allow yourself an adjustment period. Getting serious about safety requires you to introduce workplace safety as a priority, listen and take on board feedback and continuously reassess your approach.
Topics: Safety Management System
Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.
Originally published 03 February, 2021.