Don’t Just Say “Safety First”…. Make Safety First!

Most employers are used to seeing posters and reading materials that encourage or promote a safety first work environment or culture. The term “safety first” is used so frequently and loosely that it often loses its meaning. To bring the meaning to the forefront, each word must be assessed.

Safety is the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss. First means preceding all others in time, order, or importance. So to put it together.....”Safety First” means to put the condition of being safe from harm, injury or loss before other matters; making safety of considerable importance.

Creating a safety-focused culture has some amazing benefits if established and maintained. Long-standing safety practices should result in more efficient production, reduction of industrial incidents, healthier employees (within the workplace) and/or lower costs (i.e., related to equipment replacement, etc.). Here are 5 steps to help adjust the worksite to have “safety first” be the embodied motto:

  1. Set the Standard: Communicate clear expectations to all workers regarding upholding the safety polices and best practices. These expectations should be reiterated frequently during periodic safety meetings.
  2. Lead by Example: Employees in supervisory positions must not deviate from upholding safety policies and best practices. The absolute worst way to teach an employee is to fulfill a task or function in a manner contrary to company policy and/or procedure.
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Establish a positive reinforcement program that recognizes safe practices. It is a best practice to provide verbal praise or a small item (of minimal monetary value, such as a t-shirt or certificate).
  4. Show Up Unannounced: Employees tasked with auditing or inspecting a worksite should make unannounced visits to be able to survey the worksite without the employees having forewarning. Inspecting a worksite as-is will provide the internal auditor/inspector with a real-time assessment of the workplace and any hazards.
  5. Good Housekeeping: Begin to implement an instant “clean-up” mindset. This will assist with employees being more cognizant of spills, trip hazards and more, so hopefully they will not just walk by a minor hazard, but oversee that it is cleaned up before moving along.

United Staffing Associates has a team of experienced and knowledgeable health & safety professionals that can assist clients with worksite assessments. If you are an employee or client of United Staffing Associates, reach out to us at (805) 269-2677 if you have a safety-related question or concern or visit our website at to find the contact information for your local branch.