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Workplace Safety


By November 1, 2011No Comments

Approximately 15 people die each day from injuries or illnesses acquired at work. One of the leading contributors to this statistic is complacency. Safety is, unfortunately, one of the areas in which employees and leaders become too complacent. As they develop routines, their standards start to dwindle. Overseers might begin accepting a lower quality of work. To make matters worse, employees might continue finding shortcuts in their work. When shortcuts become common, accidents happen. Sometimes accidents occur and are not reported at all. Events that almost end in an accident also often go undocumented. Even if they’re lucky enough to avoid disaster, workers with complacent attitudes have the potential to drive the company they work for into the ground. The worst part about this snowballing scenario is that employers begin blaming employees, and employees always blame the employers. There are often blame battles between supervisors and employees also. Fortunately, there are several steps supervisors or overseers can take to minimize the dangers of workplace complacency.

  1. Get to know the employees individually. In a society that is individualistic, it’s important to treat people with the respect they have been taught to expect. Supervisors in the workplace must make a point to become familiar with each employee. Ask each person about their safety concerns and discuss company policies. Make sure they understand the company’s policies. When an employee states a safety concern, always do something about it. Employees must never feel that their safety concerns are being ignored.
  2. Make safety a main focus in management planning. During organizational and regular meetings, make safety issues a priority. Be sure to speak about safety concerns collected from employees’ suggestions to other corporate leaders. By talking about them during every meeting, it’s more likely that improvements and changes will happen quickly. While presenting the safety concerns, be sure to illustrate how the negative effects of ignoring the issues will hurt the company.
  3. Review and analyze all safety reports regularly. Although it’s most important to review injury reports stemming from safety issues, it’s also important to review near misses. Make sure employees know that it’s mandatory to record incidents that were almost accidents. After reading the reports, meet with the employees involved in each incident. Ask injured employees how they are doing and monitor their progress. Employees who had near misses must be interviewed to see if they have made any required changes to prevent future incidents. If the changes are beyond their control to make, be sure to take the necessary steps to implement them.
  4. Involve all employees in the safety process. Reward every employee’s effort toward safety involvement. Keep in mind that employees could ignore safety rules instead. To help encourage them to do more, implement a safety committee. Membership for the committee must be voluntary. However, many employees who want to be promoted are happy to join committees. For large workplaces, designate a committee for each department. Encourage the committee members to work together to enforce safety rules. Hold regular meetings at work, and allow safety committee members to voice their concerns. One of the best ways to prevent complacency about safety issues is to hold contests. For example, offer a monetary bonus for employees who stay incident-free for a specific time period. Money is always a valuable incentive to avoid complacency and negligence.
  5. Implement an efficient and anonymous reporting system. Employees who are considered tattletales shouldn’t be ignored. If they have safety concerns or see another employee breaking safety rules, it’s imperative to listen to them. Many employees are afraid to talk about others because they want to avoid conflict. Respect their desire to enjoy a comfortable workplace by implementing an anonymous tip system. Never tell an employee who has been reported that a specific fellow employee gave the tip. This only creates animosity. By keeping information anonymous, employees are more likely to follow safety rules. Employees know that anyone may report their actions without fear of being named individually, so they’ll be more careful. In addition to providing anonymity, this system is also a great way to gain the trust of employees.

In order to avoid complacency and negligence, safety must become a culture in the workplace. Employees and supervisors need to see that it’s a part of everything they do. They must also see the dangers and effects of becoming complacent. For example, arrange a seminar each month with a safety speaker who has been disfigured or disabled from a workplace accident. Videos, pictures and real-life exposure to disfigured workers is a good way for employees and supervisors to see the realistic safety risks of workplace complacency. Once a regular plan becomes an official culture that is rigorously enforced, it’s easy for everyone to enjoy a safe workplace.