7 Ways to Recognize National Safety Month
June is National Safety Month. While that might not exactly make your employees turn cartwheels or mark their calendars, it’s actually pretty important.
Safety is much more than hard hats and bandages. By focusing on safety in a more encompassing way, you can contribute not only to your employees’ well-being, but also to building a better workplace culture that will attract and retain great talent.
Because let’s face it: the COVID-19 pandemic made safety the top conversation for most people, whether at work or at home, for over a year. People might have been flippant about the importance of safety before, but they aren’t anymore.
Knowing it’s National Safety Month and doing something meaningful about it are two different things, however. We’re going to give you some great ideas that you can use to incorporate not only awareness of the month, but also an ongoing safety-focused culture.
What is National Safety Month?
In 1966, June was established as National Safety Month. Unlike SAFE month, which addresses gun violence specifically, National Safety Month has a broader goal. It aims to bring awareness to the importance of safety and help establish safety protocols and measures to reduce the number of accidents and deaths that happen at work, at home, while traveling, and in daily life.
For 2021, National Safety Month is broken down into four points of interest, one for each week:
- Prevent incidents before they start. The first week focuses on identifying all types of risks and putting safety measures into place.
- Address ongoing COVID-19 safety concerns. The second week is about continuing the conversations surrounding safety while employers and employees begin returning to workplaces and normal operations.
- It’s vital to feel safe on the job. The third week addresses the importance of an inclusive safety culture where both physical and psychological safety is addressed.
- Advance your safety journey. The fourth week promotes creating an active safety culture for continuous safety improvement into the future.
According to the National Safety Council, the United States saw 5,333 fatal workplace injuries in 2019 alone, the most since 2007. With the recent pandemic adding new concerns to personal safety, not only in the workplace but in all daily areas of life, providing people the information and tools to stay safe has never been more important.
How to recognize National Safety Month
While various organizations, such as the CDC, offer a lot of information and suggestions on how to recognize National Safety Month, it’s sometimes tough to find creative ways to put those tips into meaningful action.
Posting a flyer on the break room bulletin board or sending out a company-wide email telling people it’s National Safety Month won’t do much to promote safety. There are better ways to share important safety information that will help your employees remember and get on board for the future. Here are a few ways to incorporate National Safety Month into your workplace:
Lead safety brainstorming sessions.
We all like to be involved in the decision-making process. Having a chance to provide input for the things that concern us in the workplace makes new rules less burdensome. We feel like we own it a bit.
The issues of safety and security are broad, covering everything from workplace injuries, security while in the workplace, and emotional safety. Ultimately you’ll emerge from this with new safety policies or protocols. Because of that, you want to use a process like you would when you’ve created employee policies in the past.
You’ll want to structure your brainstorming sessions to cover all ground evenly. It might look something like this.
- Initial brainstorming session introduces the topics and encourages employees to recommend or remove. Goal: leave with a discussion structure for next time, assigning research to team members if needed.
- Subsequent brainstorming sessions cover individual or related topics, with team members providing any necessary research relevant to discussion. Goal: leave with a first draft of potential safety policy or guidelines.
- Final brainstorming session concludes all discussion and ties up loose ends, including definitions of terms and expectations so there is no confusion. Goal: leave with a solid safety plan for the workplace.
- What comes out of this brainstorming session may be used in upgrading or creating an employee handbook. It might be used to create a safety committee or a safety position. It might spur on regular safety meetings and sessions throughout the year.
Host a safety seminar.
Host a safety seminar that features training that touches on both general safety concerns as well as those that might be unique and specific to your workplace.
Be creative. Make it interesting, maybe by bringing in outside speakers or experts. Be sure some hands-on training or activity is included, as well as a chance for your employees to participate in discussion and offer their thoughts so that they have a sense of ownership.
Introduce incentives for safety training.
Create a safety program that rewards safe behavior and employees who promote a culture of safety. That might mean you reward them for participating in training sessions, showing they know best safety practices, reporting legitimate safety concerns, or suggesting something that could make the workplace safer.
Incentives could be in the form of a points system that could be traded in for gifts or other perks. Just be aware that some forms of incentives are considered taxable by the IRS.
Also, make sure that your incentive program is OSHA-compliant, however.
Some incentive programs run afoul of OSHA if they in any way penalize an employee for reporting an accident. Avoid rewarding or penalizing everyone as a whole group, based on safety standards. This can create peer pressure to underreport accidents or safety concerns. Reporting safety issues should never be penalized.
Highlight your safety officer.
Many workplaces have an employee who also functions as a safety officer. Some have a safety committee. If you have one, be sure to work with them during the entire month. Introduce them to your team and let them know how they can help throughout the rest of the year.
If you don’t have a safety officer or a safety committee, it might be something to consider. Having someone with that specific focus is a good way to keep safety front and center all year. They can make sure safety protocols meet standards and give updates at regular meetings. They can also be a point of contact for employees in any safety concerns.
Raise funds for a good cause.
Today’s generation of workers want to know the work they are doing will benefit others.
Holding a month-long fundraiser to support causes that are all about safety would be a great way for them to channel that, as well as have fun. Whether it’s through a silent auction, a 5K, or a community event where your employees volunteered, a fundraiser is a great way to connect your team as well as get them to think about safety issues not only at the workplace, but in the community.
Offer to match funds.
Have a safety fair.
Who doesn’t like a fair?
Keep it entirely internal or invite other businesses to participate or partner with you. A safety fair is a great way to liven and break up a workweek while also presenting helpful tools and information.
Highlight safety in your business.
It’s not only employees who are concerned about safety. Customers too are concerned. Especially as everyone tries to find a way to work and shop as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you haven’t already created a plan for reopening your business after the pandemic, you’ll want to do that.
But don’t forget to let people know you have a plan.
Alert customers on social media and signs around the store. Remove old signs that no longer apply and try to coordinate the style of your signs so that there’s a sense of order.
You’ve probably let your employees know the procedure for coming back, but be sure it’s posted on internal messaging and websites, as well as in the break room. You may want to have meetings simply to touch base with employees to make sure everyone is comfortable with what’s going on.
While there is no shortage of days or months of special emphasis, National Safety Month is unique in that it encompasses so many real employee concerns. By drawing attention to it, and finding memorable ways to get your employees to engage with safety awareness in a memorable way, you’ll create a safer workplace and a better overall culture.
Maybe you can’t put on a big event this year. You can at least start small and build for next year. Even if it’s only ordering pizza and finding a video on safety culture, you can do something to get everyone thinking about ways to be safer.
You can begin adjusting for a safety-focused culture, one step at a time. When National Safety Month comes around again next year, you’ll be ready with great ideas to get your team engaged.