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For risk and safety professionals, the new calendar year brings with it a renewed focus on improving their organization’s culture of safety. Whether looking to put a new safety program in place, make wholesale changes to an existing program, or build upon previous successes, many organizations face the challenge of ensuring that their employees are fully participating in safety efforts.

A recent EHS Today article takes a look at a potential solution for involving people across an organization in this process: safety assessments.

Where static surveys may be seen as yet another safety-related requirement, focus group-based assessments followed by the completion of self-assessments are more likely to drive engagement and add value.

“Instead of just ticking things off a checklist, assessments bring people from across the organization together to take stock, do some soul-searching and make improvements,” writes Laura Putre as she summarizes what Fluharty sees as the difference between assessments and audits. “And they are different from surveys, which don’t allow for additional questions and often have a low participation rate.”

Key factors in the successful introduction of safety assessments

The main key is to make assessments more human, with the more people involved, the better. According to Fluharty, this means including at least 20% of a workforce in “focus groups” for the discussion of open-ended questions.

A number of other factors are likely to contribute to making assessments matter. These include:

  • Breaking focus groups down by specific locations and/or roles
  • Understanding how to handle participants who take up too much of the conversation
  • Excluding direct supervisors from an assessment to ensure that employees feel comfortable and aren’t fearful of retaliation
  • Including anonymous self-assessments that encourage employees to continue thinking about safe workplace behavior

Rather than merely handing out self-assessments, organizations should aim for active facilitation. The EHS Today article cites Fluharty’s suggestion that distribution of self-assessments be accompanied by an explanation of why they matter.

Using audits and assessments to engage employees and measure success

Ultimately, any safety-related activity needs to be seen by employees as more than just another set of tasks pushed down from above. Audits can certainly be the right tool to measure success and understand where improvements are needed. Assessments (and self-assessments) may be a more effective solution for fully engaging employees and driving home the behaviors that contribute to a culture of safety. A combination of the two is likely to prove the most valuable and have the greatest impact.

Using both audits and self-assessments to build a culture of safety and measure results succeeds with the right technology in place. With Origami Risk, risk and safety professionals can take both their self-assessment and audit processes to the next level.

  • Origami Risk’s intuitive data collection tools can be tailored to meet the nuanced requirements of any organization.
  • When setting up self-assessment or audit questions, system administrators can configure online and mobile forms for specific locations, groups, or roles.
  • Automated workflow tools streamline virtually any process. For example, automated notifications, tasks, and reminders — sent via email or displayed in dashboard widgets — can be set up to help reduce administrative overhead and foster accountability.
  • Integrated dashboards, reports, and graphs provide users with the ability to analyze and take strategic action based on self-assessment and audit response data.

To learn more about the innovative ways Origami Risk clients are using our flexible audit and assessment tools to engage employees and build cultures of safety, explore our EHS solution suite or contact us to walk through your organization's specific needs.