Companies invest thousands of dollars and countless hours implementing programs designed to prevent employee injuries, yet they still continue to occur. They hire professionals and outside consultants to interview employees and inspect facilities, but hazards still exist. Leaders say that safety is just a matter of “common sense”. If so, why then does it seem that common sense isn’t that common?
The answer is that safety is more than common sense, program, or process. It’s about behaviors. Even the smartest, best trained employees can get hurt when they, through ignorance, complacency, or unclear expectations, choose behaviors that expose them to a hazard. So how does an organization overcome this? By understanding the elements that influence employee behavior and providing the motivation and consequences in such a way that an employee can’t help but choose the safest behavior.
It’s important to know that behaviors are observable activities, and are predictable. They also make sense to the person that chooses the behavior at the time. Unfortunately, behaviors are typically only discussed when there is a problem, which means that the unsafe act or injury has already occurred.
This training provides an understanding of the activators that influence employee behaviors, as well as an understanding of the types of consequences leaders can use that will most strongly influence those behaviors. We will look at why fear of injury or discipline won’t lead to the types of behaviors we want, and how to communicate the consequences that will lead to safe behaviors. Safety feedback as a means of this communication can be used to reinforce safe behavior, and to correct unsafe behaviors. Lastly, we will look at examples of incidents involving NASA caused by “normalization of deviation” can show how the perception of consequences and can undermine even the best safety programs as they drive toward world-class safety cultures.
Keith D. Robinson, CSP, CHMM
Corporate Safety Director
Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.