Employee Participation in Safety

Employee Participation in Safety

A workplace safety program only works when top leadership, management, and employees alike are engaged. It’s easy to get leadership on board with a safety program. After all, workplace safety is government mandated and ultimately saves the company time and resources in the long run. But how do you get employee participation in the workplace safety program?

employee participation in safety

Employee Participation in Safety Defined

OSHA says, “Worker participation is meaningfully engaging workers at all levels in establishing, implementing, evaluating, and improving safety and health in the workplace.” You can read their full article on worker participation HERE.

RELATED POST: Enforcing Stop Work Authority Policy

Workplace safety is really all about the employee – every employee from the top down. It makes sense that an effective safety program includes participation from all employees in every department and level in the hierarchy. The truth is, your workers are the real experts when it comes to occupational health and safety. Afterall, they are the ones actually out there doing the job. Without input and engagement from employees, a safety program will always be limited in its depth and real-life application to the workplace. But when all employees are encouraged to give input, point out hazards, and share new ideas, an organization can thrive in the area of safety.

4 Ways to Increase Employee Participation

The possibilities for keeping employees engaged with safety are nearly endless. Still, it can be difficult to come up with ideas that work for you and your workforce. Consider implementing your own version of these employee engagement strategies:

  • Reward safe workers regularly

    Encourage your management team to always keep an eye out for employees who are going above and beyond in the area of safety. When they see someone taking care of a present hazard, employing stop work authority, or helping someone else be safe, have them recognize that person right then and there with a small gift item like a gift card or voucher for the break room vending machines.

  • Initiate a Safety Wall of Fame

    Start a safety wall of fame to recognize the bigger strides of your employees when it comes to safety. Save the wall of fame for those who recognize a large-scale hazard at a customer site and were able to help correct the costly problem or for those who share an innovative safety idea that gets implemented in the workplace. Make sure to announce your hall-of-famers company wide and even hold an induction ceremony.

  • Lunch with the Boss

    Give your employees a chance to get the attention of upper level leadership in the company by inviting them to an intimate safety lunch with the boss. When the owner or president makes a point to prioritize safety, it sets the tone for the whole company. The purpose of such a lunch is not for the leadership to talk about their views on safety; instead, the purpose is to give the employees the space to bring up safety issues, regular workplace hazards, options for eliminating hazards, new health and safety ideas, and more. Again, employees are the experts when it comes to your workplace safety. Treat them like it!

  • Find and Fix Activity

    Set up an afternoon for your employees to engage in a find and fix activity or other safety related challenge. This gives your employees a chance to step away from the work place and really practice what they know or learn something new. Set up a mock work site or two and have teams compete against one another to recognize and resolve hazards. Give teams a safety scenario and have them put on skits that demonstrate best practices. Get creative with the activities, and be sure to get management involved! Check out OSHA’s recommended list of find and fix activities for even more ideas.


Activities and recognition programs are great, but they only go so far without the push to keep the initiatives going. Take the time on the front end to make sure your program includes everyone from high level management and office personnel to technicians out in the field. Create a culture from the top down where your everyday employees are recognized as the experts on workplace safety.

Above all, be sure to listen. Employees are often just waiting for an open door to share their ideas and concerns. When they come to you about safety, stop what you’re doing and listen. Take all ideas into genuine consideration and look into what it will take to make your workers’ ideas a reality.

Safety is at its best when everyone is engaged and involved. Maximize your workplace safety by garnering greater worker participation. A safer workplace and improved company culture of safety will make you glad you did.

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