One of the things that individuals responsible for safety in a company are taught is to design an effective safety observation programme to assess how the behaviour of the employees is changing after they have undergone safety training. Below are key mistakes that one should guard against making while implementing that observation programme.
Making the Programme Punitive
It is a mistake to design a safety observation programme in a way that makes that programme to be viewed as a channel to punish those who transgress any set safety procedures or practices. How can the safety observation programme be seen as punitive? An example of such a system is one in which employees are called out at the end of each day and penalised for a safety violation.
A better way to design the programme entails showing the employees that the company cares about their safety. For example, employees can be asked to give their views about the hard hats they were issued in case the observation report reveals that may employees keep taking them off while performing their work. In this way, the safety observation programme will be embraced by the employees since they will view it as something that looks out for their interests.
Not Recognising Compliance
Never make a safety observation programme about catching transgressions only. Take note of compliant behaviour and recognise it as well. For example, you can issue tokens of appreciation to employees who have not been found violating safety regulations within a given reporting period. Such positive reinforcement can instill a culture of acting responsibly on matters of health and safety at the workplace even when no one is watching.
Not Sharing the Findings
You should also avoid keeping the findings of the observation programme reserved for the management team alone. Share those findings with all employees and take the appropriate actions that the findings call for. For example, you can schedule a training session to address a safety issue that has been recurring. In this way, the observation programme will not be viewed as just another form of work with no tangible results.
Safety observation programmes are likely to be doomed to fail from the start in case the managers of the company don't walk the talk on health and safety issues. For example, the person observing safety compliance may hesitate to document an incident in which a member of the management team goes into a hazardous work area without all the necessary PPE. Such omissions in the reports can set a precedent for selective documentation in future. The entire programme can then fail once the reports generated only reflect partial observations in the company.