A work environment centered on the transportation of hazardous materials is certainly different from a work environment focused on sales or high finance, but it is a work environment nonetheless. Hazmat employers need to not only make sure that safety standards are being met across every step of the process, but that their work culture is positive and their employees’ needs are met. Here is some guidance on building a better hazardous materials shipping and handling culture for transportation employees.
Involve Employees in Safety Support
Sometimes, transportation employees feel that their role is separate from that of their bosses. This may cause them to feel that they are not as important as the higher-ups. Of course, this is not true: the task of maintaining safety standards is not just the duty of management, but of everyone involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, and every role is vital. However, this perceived imbalance can be demotivating.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) “A Guide to Developing a Hazardous Materials Training Guide” advises managers to help “develop a supportive safety culture” by encouraging employees to be active with brainstorming and proposing ideas for improving the company’s shipping and handling procedures. Employers must also create a safe atmosphere in the sense that their employees feel free to interface with them about anything, without worrying about the threat of repercussions. That includes being open enough to report errors and issues, particularly against other managers.
Be Active in Safety Support
On that note, employers have a responsibility to break down any perceived barrier between employers and employees. The guide mentioned above states that employers should hold people in management positions accountable as they would with any other worker. No one should be above the rules (especially because breaking those rules can cause a disaster), and no one should have the impression that accountability does not extend to “all management layers.”
Beyond this, employers must work with employees to fix problems and solve conflicts as they appear, and they must strive to prevent them from occurring. That can include conducting safety meetings, spot-checking the different departments, informing employees of any changes to regulations, and providing constructive criticism for performance evaluations. This advice can apply to any work environment, and it works just as well for companies that happen to be involved in hazardous materials shipping and handling.
Assist Employees in Receiving Training
We have written in the past on the subject of improving the work culture of a company involved with hazardous materials by providing employee training programs, so we will not go into too much detail here. However, mentioning this in this context is important because this can be immensely beneficial to both employee productivity and the company bottom line.
Training programs can include initial and recurrent training on how to handle hazardous materials for safe transportation, as well as teaching employees new skills that can enable them to take on more tasks and even grow into a new position. When an employer provides such programs, they prove to employees that they are invested in them and interested in giving them opportunities to grow.
Hazmat University provides a variety of hazardous materials training options to meet a variety of needs. Employees are required to undergo hazmat training every few years, and employers are required to provide it. If you are a hazmat employer interested in building a better hazardous materials shipping and handling culture for your employees, we encourage you to go above and beyond for them and help them get signed up with us today.