By Andrea Lebron - December 8, 2020
Streamlining office safety management and safety drills to minimize the risk of personal injury, property damage, and business disruption can be challenging at the best of times. During the current climate of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even harder to get employees to focus on office safety best practices.
There are multiple sources recommending ways to streamline safety management and safety drills. However, the majority are more relevant to “hard hat” workplace environments (i.e. construction and manufacturing) in which employees have a stake in engaging with safety awareness because of the hazardous jobs they do. In an office environment, it can be more challenging to motivate employees to engage with workplace safety because the same motivation does not exist.
Furthermore, although the COVID-19 pandemic may have made office employees more conscious of personal safety best practices such as hand washing, social distancing, and not sharing workstations, this is unlikely to have translated into greater awareness of office safety best practices. Indeed, the increased focus on personal safety may have negative consequences for office safety management due to the impact of COVID-related stress on employee engagement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had terrible personal and economic consequences, but it has also given health and safety leaders an opportunity to reengage employees prior to returning to the office. Many companies will have changed existing health and safety policies to prepare for a return to the workplace, and health and safety leaders can take advantage of these changes to reinforce best practices and streamline office safety management and safety drills.
In many ways reengaging employees with office safety will be similar to the health and safety training each employee receives when they first start working for a company – the primary difference being that health and safety leaders will be more familiar with each employee and have a greater knowledge of their needs, skills, and motivators. There may also be a greater knowledge of how each employee responds to health and safety training and engages with office safety already.
This greater knowledge of existing compliance (or lack of compliance) enables health and safety leaders to tailor reengagement training to individual needs. This doesn't mean large companies will have to prepare thousands of one-to-one training programs, because most employees will fall into groups with similar needs, skills, and motivators. It's then just a question of getting the right training to the right people, and getting feedback from employees to ensure the training has been absorbed.
During the pandemic, many companies adopted mass multi-modal communication solutions to keep in touch with remote workers, manage hybrid shift patterns, and conduct wellness checks on self-quarantining employees. Many of these solutions have database segmentation capabilities that enable health and safety leaders to send the right training to the right people, confirm they have received it, and seek feedback to ensure the training has been absorbed.
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Using the polling capability of a mass communication solution not only has benefits in reengaging employees with office safety, it can also help identify where further training is needed. As with the initial SMS text message, responses to the question and answer “polling” texts are recorded on the solution's platform so health and safety leaders can see who is failing to absorb the training and tailor more effective training to reinforce office safety best practices.
The benefit of identifying who is in need of more effective training is that it reduces the burden on health and safety leaders to repeat training to the entire workforce once offices are reopened – in itself not an easy task if companies are working a hybrid shift schedule. This also has the advantage of smaller classes if training is conducted on-site, which means fewer resources are required to achieve more and social distancing measures can be maintained.
The grouping of employees based on their safety awareness can also have an impact on how safety drills are conducted – it being easier to instruct groups of employees with the same level of safety awareness than groups with mixed levels of awareness. While it may be a challenge to get employees with the same level of safety awareness on the same shift to conduct drills, once this challenge is overcome, it should streamline office safety management and safety drills.
While health and safety leaders do all they can to minimize the risk of personal injury, property damage, and business disruption, employees also have a responsibility to help keep workplaces safe but reporting risks to the health and safety team. In many cases, reports are made by word of mouth or email, but these options tend lack accountability and – when concerns are not addressed – it can result in employee disengagement.
Having worked so hard to reengage employees with office safety, it makes sense to implement a system of risk reporting in which concerns are recorded and addressed according to their severity. One such system is tip texting, which can be used to report such things as dangerous structures, a failure to maintain social distancing, or – anonymously if needed – workplace bullying and mental health concerns. A benefit of having reports recorded in these cases is that, if the same concern is submitted by multiple sources, the issue can be allocated a higher priority and addressed quickly.
A tip texting service with anonymizer capabilities, plus a mass multi-modal communications solution with database segmentation and polling capabilities can help health and safety leaders streamline office safety management and safety drills in a post-COVID era more effectively to enhance workplace safety. And, if you are a person with a responsibility for health and safety in an office environment, we invite you to get in touch to request a demo of these solutions in action.
Andrea is Rave's Director of Digital Marketing, a master brainstormer and avid coffee drinker. Andrea joined Rave in August 2017, after 10 years of proposal and corporate marketing at an environmental engineering firm. You'll find her working with her amazing team in writing and producing blogs like this one, improving your journey to and through our website, and serving you up the best email content. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she's chasing after her three daughters or indulging in her husband's latest recipe. Andrea has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing/Management from Northeastern University and an MBA from Curry College.
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