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Who CARES about your safety ANYWAYS?

Well the correct, just not political or legislative answer would be WE ALL DO! Regardless of occupation, site or industry we all care about your safety.   Why that, well it is for is varies reasons not just in the human touch in life but in the roles we play in being our brother or sisters keeper.   The disconnect between management’s words that safety is the top prior in the company and the employees belief that productivity is the top priority is something that I hear and encounter as a consultant at the majority of organizations I’ve worked with. Health and safety is applicable to more than only civil engineering and construction projects. Just because your project isn’t going to deliver a new bridge or shopping center, or the architecture for a fancy new office block, doesn’t mean that health and safety is irrelevant for your project team.


Think about it daily, safety matters to each of us in our daily activities. We put our seat belt on when we start our cars. We make sure our children wear their helmets when they ride their bikes. This discipline is part of our everyday lives because we care about our livelihood and the lives of our loved ones. In the same way, safety must become ingrained as a major part of each company’s culture and only then will we see measurable success in the area of safety.

As industry supervisors and leaders there are many benefits to establishing an effective safety culture in your company. In fact, a safe company is also a successful company. People want to work in a safe environment and they want to know that their company cares about their health and safety. Safety can be an effective way to attract and retain valuable employees and help increase productivity and quality.

I for one prefer to be optimistic and humanistic, believing that the silent majority does care about the safety and health of others, and wants to do the right thing.

Because companies are concerned with public opinion and public relations. If the safety records of organizations became public, these organizations would be greatly concerned about public opinion and be motivated to do something about it. Of course the public should be interested and care about a company’s injury records, since industry includes family members from the public. I would like to believe people are less self-serving and more caring than a number of opinions express.

Regarding the belief that people are entirely self-serving, let me make three critical points: 1) As Skinner said, we are motivated by soon, certain, and positive consequences;

2) He also warned we are more motivated by consequences for ourselves than for others; 3) But the humanists have found that people are reinforced greatly when they go beyond self-serving consequences and serve others (e.g., servant leadership). The top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is not self-actualization, but is self-transcendence.

People who reach that level understand and experience the reinforcing consequences of helping others. Our challenge is to help people get to that mindset, and then actively caring for people will be self-reinforcing and self-maintaining.

Management needs to realize that not all messages are taken seriously by employees. People listen to the messages and decide which ones they’re supposed to do and not to do, i.e. shrug off most of the time. For example, the most common safety message by companies is “Safety is #1” or “Safety is more important to us than anything else”. Employees instinctively feel that message is pure bunk. Employees know the #1 priority for management is clearly profitability. Employees have no trouble judging the claim that “safety is #1” in and of itself is nonsense.

Does your company genuinely care about safety for instrumental reasons but it’s pretending to care about safety for intrinsic reasons? Then just come out and say it. Employees will appreciate the honestly and most likely will actually believe you! Claiming that safety is a goal when it is actually a means to a goal has no credibility and employees will blow off the safety rules. They will when asked automatically say that “management says safety is #1 but we know what they truly mean is that production is #1”. This results in a paradox outcome that bad for both the employee and the company—that is from the company have a good policy but having a dishonest or unstated rationale for the policy.

If your company is serious about safety and reaping the benefits that saves money by:

·        Reducing incidents in a way that saves us training costs

·        Saves us insurance costs

·        Saves us medical costs

·        Saves us recruiting costs

·        Saves us morale costs

Then take the time to find out why your employees aren’t taking it seriously. Diagnose where and what message/messenger it is coming from and then implement a treatment to fix it. The next step is the hard part, actually following through with designing and making the work safe, efficient and intuitive for workers to do their jobs effectively and safely each day.

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