Safety survey is a great tool to understand employees’ perception on existing safety culture in the organization. Safety surveys when conducted on an annual basis aid in:
- Improvement of safety culture within the organization
- Enhancement of employee awareness about safety programs and initiatives
- Identification of areas needing safety improvements
- Building confidence among employees on management’s commitment to safety
Below are 5 best practices to follow to design an effective safety survey that is not seen as a burden by the employees but seen as an opportunity for them to help the organization improve its safety performance.
1. Always have an Introduction
An introduction is crucial to boost employee engagement in the survey and to ensure high completion rates. Introduction needs to be plain and simple ideally addressing the following:
- Purpose of the survey
- Time to complete the survey
- How will the responses be used and shared in the organization (confidential/anonymous)
2. Divide the survey into multiple sections
One of the methods to keep your employees engaged in the survey is to divide the survey into multiple sections. A brief introduction at the start of a section mentioning what that section aims to know will make it even better. A 25-question survey can be divided into 5 sections with 5 questions in each section. This helps in engagement and high completion rates. Following are some suggested areas the Safety survey may focus on. Each of this area can be divided into a section.
- Safety Reporting Awareness and Participation
- Understanding of SMS & Safety Performance
- Management commitment to Safety
- Perception on company Safety Culture
- Awareness of safety programs and just culture
3. Types of Questions
Employees have enormous number of tasks to complete every day. A safety survey cannot take significant amount of their work hours with too many open-ended questions. To make this possible, it is ideal to frame your questions largely into:
- Yes/no questions
- Likert scale questions (strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree)
At the same time, do not eliminate the option of open-ended questions. Limit the open- ended questions to 1 or 2. Open ended questions serve a great deal to let employees contribute by giving suggestions for safety improvement. While we may be unable to statistically analyze these responses, it provides us an opportunity to know our weak areas. If you see most of them pointing to a single weak area (ex: lack of fall restraint system for aircraft maintenance activities) then that is an opportunity to improve and gain their confidence.
4. Avoid double barreled questions
Double barreled questions are those questions which force the employees to respond to two questions at once. The questions must always be framed in a way that only one metric gets measured. An employee might have a different response for two different elements being measured. This puts the employee in confusion and doesn’t fetch the accurate response. Below is an example of double-barreled question and it needs to be split into two questions.
Are you constantly informed of company’s safety performance, and you understand that information?
5. Avoid leading questions
Leading questions are those which sway or lead the user in a particular direction of the argument. Questions need to be neutral in nature to avoid inadvertently inaccurate responses. Below is an example of a leading question.
According to you, how strong is the safety culture in our organization?
- Very weak
- Neither strong nor weak
- Very strong
By sticking to these 5 best practices, your survey will be brilliantly designed, generates accurate responses, and makes employees feel they have contributed towards safety without affecting their work and through honest responses. It’s a win-win! Happy surveying!
Revanth Gattupalli is an aviation safety professional with 5+ years of experience managing safety programs in the commercial airline industry. He graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with Masters degree specializing in Aviation Safety.