Building a successful safety culture | Training, recognition and involvement are key at Knight Signs

Safety is an integral part of the system for Knight Signs, the 2019 JHSC Excellence  Award winner. Management and employees work together to build systems to improve safety and health proactively—and prevent losses.

~ written by Jennifer Wiebe

“The goal is to continue to improve, to make sure every employee feels responsible for safety,” notes HR Manager Natalia Kouznetsova. “Employees go beyond the call of duty to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them.”

Building culture through involvement

A culture of safety and wellness is built over time, Kouznetsova says. “It’s both an individual and collective responsibility.” The company’s 12-person Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) recognizes this. Knight Signs JHSC has equal representation from production, office, and management. Their responsibilities include weekly inspections and regular feedback. Committee members also play a part in accident and near-miss investigations —inviting workers to analyze and contribute to improving safety performance.

The JHSC encourages employees to bring ideas for safety improvements forward. ”Management and JHSC members involve employees in safety decisions instead of simply dictating policies,” Kouznetsova says. “That encourages workers to make suggestions, participate in safety activities, mentor new employees, and take ownership of their own safety.”

In 2019 Knight Signs held its first Safety Day to promote health and safety in a positive and encouraging way. It was a day filled with health and safety training through fun and educational activities – from a hazard assessment activity and fire extinguisher training to stretching exercises and a Safety Amazing Race.

“We had a lot of safety activities and discussions on that day,” Kouznetsova says. “All employees participated with enthusiasm, and their feedback was very encouraging.”

Leadership and recognition

Health and safety is the first topic of discussion on the agenda of management meetings and recommendations are taken seriously. JHSC is working closely with the management team to improve Safety Culture. In addition to daily recognition of positive behaviors, the company supports the committee’s recommendations for outstanding performance with a Safety Star award at a monthly town hall meeting.

The JHSC is also actively working on measuring outcomes of health and safety activities, Kouznetsova notes. “We have quarterly reports and analysis of accidents/incidents and inspections.  Sometimes policies are changed in order to improve the profile of health and safety.”

The goal is to continue to improve, to make sure every employee feels responsible for safety. Employees go beyond the call of duty to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors and intervene
to correct them.

Wellness beyond the physical

Addressing physical and mental wellness not only affects productivity, but healthy and happy employees help the company to recruit and retain talent.

Company wellness programs range from stretching workouts with a certified fitness instructor, monthly lunches, coffee breaks, and celebrations, to confidential and professional support for issues such as stress, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.

Sharing our experience

At the 2019 Make It Safe Conference, Knight Signs committee members Natalia Kouznetsova and Sharon Hughes participated in the expert panel: Building a high-performing JHSC team: What makes a Joint Health & Safety Committee tick? Knight Signs had a few inquiries after the conference and were glad to invite their neighboring Safety Committees to safety meetings to share their knowledge and experience.