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Encourage a Utility-wide Safety Culture

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19th July 2021

UPA Blog: Encourage a Utility-Wide Safety Culture

When it comes to conversations within the utility industry, safety is at the top of the list. It’s one of those things that has always been universally accepted as critically important. For utility leadership that wants to keep safety at the forefront, the answer can be found in proper messaging. Or in this case, building and maintaining a culture predicated on employees’ willingness to buy into safety compliance. Keep reading to learn more about the messaging methods you should be deploying to encourage a utility-wide culture of safety. 

Related: On Board With a Safety Culture? 5 Tips To Make it Stick

Safety starts at the top

A culture of safety always starts at the highest level. Utility leadership isn’t always put in the same situations as frontline employees, but leadership does start at the top. There are many ways of sharing safety information and reinforcing the message, both daily and in one-off settings. For example, distribute thank you notes as part of a safety-related recognition program and hold regularly-scheduled stand-up meetings. No matter how the message is shared, leadership visibility is critical. It gives your team members a reason to believe in safety compliance. If leadership can make it clear that they care, so will frontline employees.

Related: OSHA and Beyond: Keep Employees Safe in the Field

Get to the root of the problem

It goes without saying that all utilities have a goal of a zero-injury workplace. But, not all utilities deal with the same types of problems. In order to really make safety culture resonate with employees, the messaging needs to go deeper than a “zero-injury” target. Take time to assess both the most likely and most threatening injuries that can happen to your employees and deliver pertinent and targeted information on those fronts. Not only will your employees recognize that you’re looking out for them, but they’re much more likely to comply.

Related: Accountability Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Emphasize positive reinforcement

No one enjoys being scolded or lectured for doing wrong, and it feels good when you’re rewarded for doing something right. Motivators of this type, which can be as simple as verbal recognition or a pat on the back, are examples of positive reinforcement. Instead of highlighting areas where a lack of safety compliance resulted in an injury, showcase the employees doing it right. Develop a program that doles out recognition for employees who go above and beyond when it comes to safety. Seeing friends and peers recognized is enough to push someone who maybe hadn’t taken safety so seriously before in the right direction.

Related: 3 Keys to Lineworker Safety

Say it early and say it often

When it comes to safety, there’s no such thing as too much repetition. Does your utility have morning status meetings? That’s a great time to talk about safety. Do you have a bulletin board in the break room? Decorate it with safety-related posters. Do you disseminate a weekly or monthly newsletter? Have a dedicated section for one new or timely safety tip in each issue.  By peppering employees with key messages about workplace safety at various points of the day and via various channels, you can align your people around this shared goal.

Related: Safety Meetings: Make Them More Meaningful

Utility Partners of America offers safe, smart, and reliable utility solutions

Our number one priority at Utility Partners of America (UPA) is safety, which is why utilities have sought out UPA for our expertise for more than 20 years. Touting a variety of offerings from meter and line construction services, to inspection and maintenance, UPA’s skilled team helps utilities get the job done efficiently, effectively, and safely. To learn what we can do for you, contact us today.

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