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Safety experts have long understood that to achieve an outstanding safety record in the workplace, management must be involved, be held accountable, and must hold subordinates accountable. Performance evaluations may measure productivity, but is safety a consideration? A “Safety” performance evaluation focuses on what the workers have done during the review period to help prevent accidents in the workplace. Measurable safety goals that are tied to pay increases are also an effective way to incent employees to actively participate in a workplace safety program. The safety performance evaluation for a supervisor should consider the use of accident control methods, such as self-inspections, safety training, job safety analysis, and safety meetings. Employee reviews should include an evaluation of how well the workers have handled established safety practices, safe job procedures, proper tool use, and methods of material handling.
Why employees need to be involved
According to a published report in 2001 by the UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC)* and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an increase in employee involvement with health and safety issues actually helped to reduce accident rates from 1.2 to 0.1 per 100,000 man-hours. The report also revealed that when employees are evaluated for their safety performance, they are included to seek and implement practical safety improvement ideas.
*These government entities are responsible for the regulation of risks to workplace health and safety in Great Britain.
Measuring the Safety Factor
Measurable factors should be included in the safety evaluation of all workers. Workers’ who are accident-free do not necessarily practice good safety habits. Consider these points for your safety evaluation:
- Does the employee demonstrate a safe attitude and safe work methods?
- Is the employee knowledgeable of job safety duties and responsibilities?
- Has the employee promptly reported any unsafe conditions or situations, incidents and injuries?
- Does the employees safety record support a safe attitude, knowledge, and actions related to job safety?
Also, consider these factors when evaluating a supervisor’s safety performance:
- Attitudes toward job safety and the health and safety needs of his/her subordinates
- Promptness of action taken to report or correct unsafe conditions, situations, incidents, or injuries.
The frequency of the safety evaluations can be just as important as the content. Additionally, regular feedback helps the worker focus on safety and accident prevention. Consider the adoption of a quarterly review and include the following points:
- Ask everyones opinion across department or functional lines
- Provide compensation as an incentive and reward for safe behavior
- Use online evaluations;they’re a real time-saver
- Use constructive criticism and honest feedback that has a point
Handling the marginal or unsafe employee
In any organization, there are bound to be a small number of employees who perform below expectations. Poor performance or sloppy work habits can often lead to safety problems. Lack of attention to details, bad attitude, low morale, and absenteeism, are just some of the telltale signs of a problem employee, one who could inadvertently cause an accident or contribute to workplace hazards. Often, such employees suffer from poor internal motivation. In many cases, this unsafe behavior, while not malicious and intentional, is usually based on faulty awareness that requires major modification to correct. External motivation-from rewards to discipline-usually offers only a temporary solution.
Only repeated positive reinforcement can yield the desired change. Pointing out the occasions when safe behavior is accomplished can be a critical step toward long-term results. There is nothing like a positive experience to imbed the benefits of learning new skills in the mind of a workers. A frequent performance evaluation, with accident prevention at its core, is one way to resolve the problems of a marginal worker. In some cases, the root of the problem may be job-related. On the other hand, it could be an indication of physical or emotional stress. Use the performance review to probe into why the employee feels he is performing below your expectation. The answer may reveal the underlying reasons and help identify ways to improve performance.
Regardless, you cannot allow such an employee to continue to endanger himself or those around him. Consider a re-assignment to a job that may be more suited to the worker’s skills and interests. However, if counseling and motivation fail to improve the employee’s work habits, it may be time to make a change for the sake and safety of the entire organization.