How to Build Your Safety Record for Workforce Recruitment

How to Build Your Safety Record for Workforce Recruitment

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

Today, the employment market is tight across the United States. Statistics tell us everyone who can be employed, is employed, right now. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites our unemployment rate at 3.8%. In March, the BLS reported 4.5 million people were working part-time for economic reasons—often called involuntary part-time—as hours were reduced and, or, job seekers were unsuccessful while attempting to secure full-time jobs.
 
And the US economy continues to grow, expand, albeit modestly.
 
So people are working and competing for work in our labor market. Depending on the industry and the role, this either a nightmare or a dream scenario for human resources teams; recruiting senior level tech employees may be extremely difficult while onboarding for entry-level roles is reaching peak efficiency in both volume and quality of applicants.
 
Either way, HR is busy.
 
This is a time of great advantage for those of us employed or seeking employment in trades and other high-risk, labor-related disciplines, where qualified human supply is low and demand for talent has steadily escalated.
 
However, the current period of economic expansion presents a disadvantage for employers who are in the midst of succession planning to fill positions left open by retiring “Baby Boomers”—10,000 of whom turn 65 each day.
 
How can employers position themselves to be the ‘employer of choice’ to recruit and retain employees? The first step is to know your audience.
 

Who is your workforce audience? 

 
 
No matter your industry, generational knowledge matters if you intend to stay relevant. Looking at the number of people available to work from each generation is one place to start.
 
Generation X (born 1965-1979) members are a tiny cohort of 60 million, sandwiched between the Boomers (born 1946-64) at 80 million and the larger Millennial generation (born 1980-1995) of 82 million. Generation Z (born 1996 and after) members are expected to surpass (in population numbers) the Millennial generation this year.
 
The oldest of Generation Z are 23 years of age in 2019.  
 
By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. Millennials will be spending over $2.45 trillion in 2019. Millennials will have outpaced Boomer earning in 2018. And by 2042, people of color will make up the majority of the US population.
 
Knowing that over half of the available workforce ranks safety as their number one workplace concern, what are you going to do when recruiting new employees? Knowing that over half of the available workforce are digital natives, with high expectations for technology, unlimited access to information, and who amplify their voices on social-media to enact change as “citizen journalists”, how are you, as an employer, going to engage with them?
 

Pitching Safety to New Hires?

 
The majority of the United States workforce cares deeply about how their employer will work to keep them safe.  
 
Skeptical?  Here are two facts:
 
  1. Millennials rank personal safety as their top workplace issue, according to an American Psychological Association survey. Makes sense doesn’t it? As a generation, their formative years were shaped by 9-11, mass shootings, and natural disasters. The formative years of Generation Z are still being shaped by societal events and trends, yet mass shootings and natural disasters are continuing to ‘trend’ in their lives. Staggering statistics of college campus assaults loom large in their minds, for example.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), younger workers are more likely to be injured on the job than older adults; this is normally attributed to less experience and training.
One often-overlooked selling point recruiters miss is occupational health and safety performance, particularly in this era of promoting—and hiring for—organizational “culture”. This is true for all industries, especially the trades, and other high-risk work environments. It is also true for tech and general industry office settings; in those environments, where recruiters have faced steady competition for decades, they often call it “health and wellness” and position safety around programs designed to separate organizations from the rest of the pack. Think “AM Yoga” and “Organic Snack Bar”.
 
To embrace safety in your recruitment and retention efforts, first, form a partnership with your company safety professional. Together, you can begin to position worker safety front and center of your recruiting efforts.  
 
If you want to claim “safety” as a differentiator, as some do, what does that mean to you and how do you make that statement real? For most, it’s touting a safety record, a clear performance measurement. Airlines do this, construction companies do this, and the automotive and manufacturing industries have long used “safety” to stand apart from the competition.
 
To build your claim, consider the following:
 
  • Industry-Specific Safety Awards
As far as applying for and earning meaningful safety awards, the opportunities are out there. Caution: there’s a difference between inventing your own, paying-to-participate for publicity, and earning accreditation amongst your industry peers through competition. Safety awards from the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) and Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), are good examples of the types of accolades your organization can apply for and earn after learning more about the criteria.
 
  • Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR)
This classic safety calculation is used by OSHA for determining your basic safety performance. The OSHA Recordable Incident Rate (or Incident Rate) is calculated by multiplying the number of recordable cases by 200,000, and then dividing that number by the number of labor hours at the company. There’s even a handy calculator to save you some time: http://trircalculator.com
 
  • Workers Comp Experience Modification Rate (EMR)
Look to your Experience Modification Rates for another flavor of data and competitive safety baseline. An experience modifier is a calculated figure that accounts for the history of occupational injuries with your business, and so a measure of future risk. The experience modifier is a complex formula for calculating premiums, involving payroll projections, classification codes, rates, loss ratios, and claims history vs. the industry average.
 
  • Days Since Last Serious Injury of Fatality (SIF)
You’ve seen the classic signs posted in work environments, particularly where “zero injury” goals are touted. Researching and promoting your organization’s environmental health and safety record in this way is common and may be helpful for positioning your organization competitively. Researching your competitors is even more powerful. Look for Serious Injuries and Fatalities; recordkeeping in that area is mandatory and easily available. 
 
  • Absence of OSHA standards citations
Since OSHA’s inspection and enforcement activity is public, is it notable in connection with your safety performance to make clear your absence of violations and citations. This is another area where researching the competition may prove advantageous and help you establish truthful benchmark statistics that display credibility with potential employee prospects.
 
  • Membership in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP)
Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) recognize employers who maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) averages for their respective industries. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement. To participate, employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals. Union support is required for applicants represented by a bargaining unit. VPP participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs. VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.
 
  • National Safety Council Membership
NSC’s mission is to eliminate preventable deaths. The organization offers a host of resources and opportunities to empower safety professionals and educate the workforce about issues on and off the job. Listen to new NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin to learn about the work they do and you can benefit from membership.
 
  • Your Program
Where does safety stand in your values? What types of safety training do you offer your workers? What types of active participation opportunities do you offer employees in your safety program? Do you have a safety committee and are new hires represented? What modern best practices and technology have you launched to support the safety of your workforce? Do you evaluate safety attitudes during the hiring process? In what ways does your organization demonstrate safety leadership relative to your competition? Etc.
 
Sources:
*U.S. statistics