Smartest Idea for High-Hazard Businesses - Insurance Thought Leadership

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October 12, 2021

Smartest Idea for High-Hazard Businesses

Summary:

When an employee says they’re too tired to finish a physically demanding task and need to rest, that needs to be okay.

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Your high-hazard clients have difficult and dangerous jobs. The day-to-day is physically and mentally grueling. As a result, working in these industries often creates a tough mentality, which encourages people to push through fatigue and pain to get the job done. 

There’s a problem with this mindset. 

The “tough enough” attitude leads to excessive injuries on the job site. 

It’s time for the safety culture to change. Honest conversations about safety need to be normalized. When an employee says they’re too tired to finish a physically demanding task and need to rest, that needs to be okay. 

Safety and productivity do not need to be in conflict with one another, especially given the technology we are armed with today. 

Employees should feel empowered to talk openly about safety and have the opportunity to say they’re uncomfortable with a specific task. 

Asking for help needs to be an action that’s admired, not feared. 

Implementing this type of culture change with your client doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that needs establishing and repeating. First, you’ll need support from managers. Their buy-in will have the most significant impact on individual job sites. Then, work on getting employee participation in safety conversations. 

It should be a daily habit in the client’s business. It’s time to make safety conversations normal. 

Safety Leadership Begins With Management 

Safety culture change begins with management. Supervisors set the tone. They’re the eyes and ears that will see who’s taking unnecessary risks. Team leads and managers are in a position to stop unsafe practices and eliminate hazardous activity. 

Supervisors can affect crew culture by reminding each employee to take a step back and remember what motivates them. Employees may enjoy their job, but at the end of the day they’re working to earn a paycheck. That money goes to support their family and supply their basic needs. Encouraging employees to remember why they’re working will keep them thinking about the safest way to do their job so they can continue providing for their loved ones. 

Team leaders need to set an example. For example, they can keep a picture of their family or significant other with them at their station or in the vehicle they use. Just by seeing the picture, employees may think about their own families. Having a perspective on what really matters will affect the actions someone takes on the job. 

Everyone Should Participate in the Safety Conversation 

Safety conversations shouldn’t be one-sided lectures. The same “let’s be safe today” material will quickly lead to employees tuning out their supervisor. 

Your clients will reduce incidents when employees are engaged in the conversation and leading it. Employees need to participate in daily safety meetings. It’s a time to reinforce positive behavior, not call out employees for bad practices. 

Daily meetings before work are the best opportunity to remind teams to take their time and tell someone if they’re tired or in an uncomfortable situation. It establishes the expectation of safety as a priority and will be fresh on the mind of employees. 

Using an insurance provider like Foresight, they can leverage safety technology to track behavior and discuss best practices. 

Here’s a list of things your client can cover during their safety meetings: 

  • Ask each employee to discuss good safety practices they saw on a job 
  • Reflect on the previous day and any situations that could have been addressed differently (again, avoid calling employees out) 
  • Encourage open dialogue and conversations throughout the day 
  • Discuss coming jobs and the best approach to completing them safely 

Reducing Turnover by Making Safety a Priority 

Your clients want to keep their best people. It can be challenging to find skilled employees, and it takes time to train them and build their skill level. Safety is a significant factor in retaining talented people in high-hazard industries. 

If your client’s employees are experiencing injuries on the job site, they’re much more likely to leave. Again, it all gets back to why they do the job. If they’re concerned about their safety every day and fear they could be injured, or worse, they will leave.  

There’s another problem. Companies that have a difficult time retaining employees will be caught in a seemingly endless and costly cycle.

When accidents happen regularly, your client will begin to lose its seasoned workers. Your client replaces them with new, inexperienced employees that need time and training. Their lack of time on the job makes them a high risk for workplace incidents. 

See also: The 7 New Business Models

Redefining Safety Culture and Conversation 

On-the-job accidents are preventable. It starts with a cultural change in the industry. Opening up the dialogue with employees is the first step. People have to be comfortable saying they need to step away from a task for the sake of safety. Engaging employees in safety conversations daily will change how they view work. Instead of a box to check off, it’s another tool they use to do their job. 

As a broker, you have the opportunity to lead and educate your high-hazard clients. Due to the risks, insurance is likely one of their largest expenses. By making safety a priority and opening the conversation, you can work to reduce onsite accidents. When you work with an insurance provider like Foresight, good safety behavior is rewarded with lower premiums. Brokers can be drivers in changing workplace safety culture.

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About the Author

David Fontain is founder and CEO of Foresight Commercial Insurance, the fastest-growing workers compensation insurtech for the middle market.

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