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OSHA has developed a seven-page pamphlet titled “Better Safety Conversations” to help facilitate safety conversations between supervisors and employees, according to an article on the HCPro website.

Directed to management, the pamphlet includes information on why safety conversations are important, the different kinds of conversations that can occur, how to develop trust while ensuring that critical information is received, and recognizing and overcoming the reasons safety conversations do not happen.

OSHA says supervisors can facilitate conversations by practicing active listening techniques to develop a relationship of trust with employees. Some practical suggestions are:
• Mirror or repeat what the person is saying
• Paraphrase the message
• Summarize content
• Ask for clarification
• Acknowledge feelings
• Avoid reacting with criticism

Supervisors should make it clear at the outset that no employee will get into trouble for raising safety concerns. In fact, the pamphlet suggests actively prompting the employee to share his/her concerns.

Another effective conversation tool suggested by the pamphlet is storytelling. OSHA recommends that the story be short just a few sentences that can be told in less than half a minute.

For instance: “Last year we had three workers who injured their backs—one of them so badly that they are permanently disabled and will never be able to work again.”

It’s also a good idea to humanize statistics:

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 20 people died in trench collapses last year. I don’t want to see that happen to our workers.”

Download the pamphlet here.