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All About You: How to stay inspired when things are going well

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

No reports, no investigations … everything has been quiet. Although you’re certainly not complaining, it’s harder for you to stay inspired even though you know your safety and health program is vital to keeping employees free from harm. At times you’re even a bit bored.

When I worked in the nuclear industry, weeks would go by without any incidents – at least none that required much of my attention. I always had things to do, of course, but I made it a point to keep myself inspired by changing up my routine and the way I “marketed” safety throughout the plant.

Here are two things that I did that you can do to add some change and excitement to your safety program – both for yourself and for the people you’re working to protect.

Start a new campaign

Simply for the sake of doing something different, start a new safety marketing campaign. You don’t have to change your main theme. Companies do this all the time – keep a main icon or saying that they use regularly, but change the specifics and include new characters or scenarios. Why? Because humans lose interest in something they see or hear over and over again. Think of how commercials for the same company have changed over the years, yet the brand is still obvious.

The same goes for your safety and health program. Don’t give up on the main promotion (i.e., “Nobody Gets Hurt”) but now and again kick off a sub-campaign. This will add interest to your safety and health “marketing” – while giving you something new to work on.

Justin, one of the subscribers to my Safety Stuff e-zine, added some life to his site’s footwear program by creating a “BUI shoe-check campaign.” Here, he shares how he did it:

“At our site, we require our employees to wear slip-resistant footwear. In the dairy business you put a lot of wear and tear on your boots, so we regularly need to monitor our employees’ footwear to make sure it is not too worn. Usually, we just go up to employees and ask to see their boots so we can check them out. “I wanted to make this process fun! So I set up checkpoints similar to the DUI checkpoints the police set up. I randomly coned off a walkway, put up a stop sign and when employees came to the checkpoint I would stop them to give them a ‘BUI – Boot Under Investigation.’ “We gave a ‘summons to appear’ to anyone who had questionable boots. It was a great way to do boot inspections.”

Justin told me his campaign took boot inspection beyond the routine for him and his staff. He enjoyed it, and so did everyone else.

Conduct an unusual safety and health survey

“Unusual” is the key word here. Don’t conduct a typical, “What do you think would improve our safety awareness?” or “What are some hazards you see on the job regularly?” survey. Make up something that will surprise people – or at least stimulate a unique reply. For example: “Have you given up a habit like smoking or started a new one like exercising? If yes, what motivated you to make the change?” or “If you had to give a child one safety tip, what would it be?”

Turn the survey into a contest, posting your favorite replies on bulletin boards, video monitors or your organization’s intranet. I once hosted a “Focus On Five” campaign, posting the five best positive responses I received each month. It was a good way to increase interest in safety, encourage people to keep up the good work and motivate myself when things were going smoothly.

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit makesafetyfun.com.

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