THE FIRST STEP in increasing employee involvement for safety is hiring conscientious employees who care about safety. Organizations with elite employees normally offer competitive salaries and often use an array of selection tools, such as personality tests, biodata instruments, assessment center exercises, vocation tests (when appropriate), structured interviews and cognitive ability tests (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004; Spector, 1996). Structured interviews involve managers asking all prospective employees standardized questions that are behaviorally anchored and based on prior job analyses (Cascio, 1998). Once employees are in place, effective training and development are needed to cultivate and maintain desirable employee behaviors and attitudes. This is especially true with safety. Optimizing safety culture requires active employee engagement for safety. Employees must provide each other corrective feedback when risky behavior is identified, especially since shortcuts are often perceived to be faster and easier, and because supervisors are not always present. This corrective feedback also sets the norm that safe behavior is expected. In some organizations, safety shortcuts become the norm ("Forget what the trainer said. This is how we really do things around here"). To counter this, specific safety efforts should target safety culture improvement and hourly employees should be heavily involved in these efforts. This helps increase personal responsibility and employee buy-in for safety (Geller, 2005).
Organizations must find creative ways to increase employee involvement for safety. For example, one Virginia company used funds it had budgeted to purchase safety posters and gave it to select employees via a poster design contest. Specifically, the site shut down all operations for 2 hours and brought in all employees to create their own safety posters. Prizes were given out for first ($100), second ($50) and third place ($25) as voted by employees. The company provided flipchart pages and markers/crayons and employees were allowed to make as many posters as they wanted. The winning poster was created by a maintenance worker who drew Forrest Gump running down the road wearing safety glasses (and other PPE) under the caption, "Safety IS as Safety DOES." Completed posters were displayed around the facility. According to the safety director, the posters helped increase employees' awareness for safety. In another example, a company in West Virginia was struggling to increase employee participation in completing environmental audits and behavioral observation cards. At the time, only about 1 in 5 employees regularly completed these tasks. The company decided to donate $0.10 for each completed card to the local Boys' Club. A safety committee member reported that with in 6months the company had donated nearly $40,000 and participation rates had climbed to nearly 90%. This means employees were observing and providing each other safety feedback at much higher rates than before the new initiative. Those involved believe that this improvement would lead to safety culture improvements and reduced injuries (although site-specific injury data are not available). These results suggest that special programs focused on community service and family can help to increase employee involvement for safety. Other organizations emphasize wellness programs.