Taking Safety Home: The Value of Caring Beyond the Clock

April 15, 2024 • Missouri Employers Mutual

Many employers invest a lot of time in maintaining a safe workplace. They arrange safety training, buy personal protective equipment, and call out risky behavior with corrective action. But what impact do these efforts have beyond the business? How do employees take these safety lessons home, and how do they apply them?

On this episode of the WorkSAFE Podcast, we are joined by returning guest Aaron Paris, Director of Safety at the Robert E. Miller Group. Paris has more than a decade of experience in public safety. He has more than six years invested in workplace safety with the Miller Group, and helps clients resolve complex safety issues and put solutions in place.

First, we’ll talk about why safety is about more than rules and measures. Then, we’ll discuss why safety matters at home for employees. Finally, we’ll explain the benefits in caring about employees beyond the clock.

Listen to this episode on the WorkSAFE Podcast, or read the show notes below.

Taking safety home: More than rules and measures

Many of today’s employers see safety as something they have to persuade their employees to engage in. And while it’s true that creating a safer workplace requires teamwork, Paris views the path to get there a bit differently. Safety is more than rules and measures. It’s habits and a mindset – one that doesn’t end when an employee clocks out.

I’ve got a couple clients that have really knocked it out of the park, and the way they approach their safety program is not the old carrot and stick method,” Paris shared. “You know, if you do good, you get the carrot. If you do bad, you get the stick.” For these employers, it’s important to choose safe actions because it’s the right choice. This attitude leads to employees making the right decisions, even when no one is watching.

Stacking safety habits

It can be tempting to introduce an entire safety program in the workplace all at once. But effective change starts with one habit change at a time. It begins with education – teaching employees about a change – and then training, to help put it into practice.

For example, Paris points to a client who presented team members who finished a fire hazard training with a specialty shirt. Not only did it reflect the training completion, but it also had company branding. Earning that shirt came with a sense of pride. More than a pizza party or a less significant reward, the shirt created a sense of accountability and commitment amongst employees.

Create meaningful routines

For Paris, routines are only effective when they make sense. For instance, if a pair of safety glasses is uncomfortable, employees are going to take them off. They are easier to misplace, forget, and simply not wear. Finding the right solution takes time and effort; so does getting employees to embrace it. “Understand you have to be patient and continue to be persistent when you’re creating these habitual pieces, because we are changing how people perceive what is safe.”

Safety matters at home

Safety matters whether someone is watching or not. Paris works to instill this message in his clients. In many companies, employers take a punitive position. They watch employees closely with the intention of catching mistakes and punishing them. Consequently, their team members adhere to safety standards carefully – and associate them only with working.

But every day, we engage in activities that come with safety risks. Whether it’s mowing and weed-eating, working with a chainsaw, or hunting, wearing safety gear and maintaining equipment still matters. According to Paris, it matters even more. An injury at home impacts work; it requires time off, seeking medical care, and a potential rise in healthcare premiums.

If Joey gets hurt at home, Monday is going to be a harder deal for him to deal with,” Paris offered as an example. Teaching employees why working safely matters can change their lives. “If I’ve honed him to see the why of safety, why it’s important – not just at work but also at home – he’s going to be better for his family. He’ll be better at his work and he’ll be better for all those he works around.”

Caring beyond the clock

Just like safety, caring about employees can extend beyond the clock. “Once we’ve established all the safety things, and we have all those regulatory requirements down, then we’re looking to really in betterment of our employees,” Paris said. For example, this may like providing an employee assistance program (EAP), wellness benefits, or financial education.

For Paris, it’s important to remember that people don’t stop being who they are when they come to work. They bring their stress, their personality, and their character with them. When employers care about the well-being of their teams beyond the workplace, their overall well-being improves, and taking safety home becomes a habit for employees.

April 15, 2024
Missouri Employers Mutual
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