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Safety culture in manufacturing requires commitment from all members: from upper management and office staff to regular and temporary employees. Making safety a company value is an important step in improving compliance, but how do you increase employee buy-in when it comes to an industrial safety program? Once implemented, how can a company create a safety culture that sticks? Consider these five tips to improve safety and increase compliance through employee awareness, empowerment, and feedback.

1) Set Safety Standards

While creating a safety plan and building a facility-wide safety culture, set achievable, measurable standards—and keep it simple. Employees are less likely to follow complex rules, processes, and standards because they’re not easy to remember. Compliance increases when the rules are uncomplicated, logical, and intentional.

To determine the safety standards best-suited for your facility, look to the requirements set by OSHA and ANSI, and consider 5S and Lean methodologies to inform your strategies. While the color scheme used for signage and floor markings is generally up to individual facilities, there are a few color requirements to consider when setting your facility’s standards—specifically red for fire, yellow for hazards, and orange for warnings. Include required safety messages and notices in facility-wide standards, and expand to cover additional directions specific to your location.

2) Communicate Health & Safety Information

Consistency is key when it comes to visual cues for safety in industrial facilities, warehouses, retail locations, and parking lots. One benefit of visual communication is that consistent cues provide important information at a glance, with little to no reading required. This means employees and visitors can process the information faster, with less confusion and a quicker reaction time.

Using the same color and graphic combination throughout a facility is ideal for highlighting specific hazards, creating logical navigational cues, and designating approved processes or workflows. Use easy-to-understand floor markings to improve facility safety, then ensure staff and visitors have the tools they need to comply with the posted requirements.

A workspace clearly marked with floor marking tape

3) Regular Training Improves Compliance

A safety program shouldn’t only focus on consequences if employees make mistakes, but instead should give employees the training and tools they need to succeed when making safety decisions on the work floor. Initial training, whether for new employee onboarding or to introduce a new set of standards, as well as regular annual refresher exercises, can help improve compliance throughout the facility. However, training sessions focused on preventing citations or audit failures will fall short.

If you’re aiming for a culture of safety, build support for your onsite safety program with training that focuses on the staff members’ protection and wellbeing—not repercussions and a desire to avoid fines. Putting floor marking tape, signage, and visual communication tools in terms of employee safety improves the overall perception of the requirements. Emphasize physical safety and employee health ahead of checklists and insurance discounts to earn staff buy-in and improve overall compliance.

4) Get Feedback from Every Level

For a strong safety culture, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors must be consistent across departments. Requesting feedback from all levels can improve communication about what’s working, where improvement is necessary, and what methods or safety provisions may not be effective. Rather than assuming no criticism means the safety program is successful, ask for the opinions of regular and temporary staff members as well as floor managers. Creating a workplace that encourages feedback and communication, rather than demands full compliance, is ideal for improving systems and boosting safety.

A group of employees wearing safety vests and hard hats discussing worksite safety

5) Set Goals for Continuous Improvement

Safety programs aren’t meant to be static. As facilities grow and workflows change, safety procedures need to adapt to match. While safety-specific goals—such as reducing slip, trip, and fall injuries by 12 percent within six months—improve overall worksite safety, these goals can only be met if safety requirements are in place to protect employees, rather than a bottom line. The “Sustain” phase of 5S methodology strives for continuous improvement, which is achieved with updates to methods, procedures, workflows, floor marking tape layout, and signage. To ensure safety goals are met, employee participation must remain high—and a strong safety culture is the best way to encourage staff compliance.

An industrial safety program is better able to succeed when employees are willing to put their efforts behind a safety culture. Encourage feedback while building a safety program, provide the training and tools necessary for compliance, and update the requirements and protocols as necessary to ensure the program’s lasting success. Explore our other articles for more How-To Guides, safety information, and product tips.