Establishing a safe work culture reduces risk

Construction sites are frequently the scene of fatal accidents that, in many instances, are completely preventable. Risk of accidents and injuries rise when employees who are working unsupervised cut corners to save time or labor.

No supervisor can observe every employee during each moment of the shift. At a certain point, employees have to be trusted to be able to safely complete their tasks without needlessly jeopardizing themselves or their coworkers. One way this can be achieved is to promote a culture of safety that is employee-driven.

Employers can focus on altering workers’ attitudes toward workplace safety. By motivating them to change their beliefs and perceptions about avoiding on-the-job hazards, companies can influence behavioral changes.

Making workers a fundamental part of the safety program goes hand-in-glove with establishing engineering controls to eliminate potential hazards. Employees can become complacent with mundane, repetitive tasks and feel that they will remain in control no matter what. This may be due to a lack of understanding of the true risks involved with their labors or attributed to overconfidence in their own abilities or skills.

Regardless of the reasons, slacking off on safety is never a good idea. Introducing safety-centered programs that involve the workforce makes employees an integral part of the safety culture — a win-win scenario.

Establishing a system of consequences for failing to follow safety procedures is one way to make the workplace safer. But employers should also examine the antecedents that create the unsafe practices in the first place.

For example, if gloves must be worn for some tasks, but there are bare-handed employees ignoring the risk, determine why.

  • Do they have gloves readily available?
  • Are the gloves well-fitting and comfortable enough for employees to work while wearing them?
  • Have they been properly trained as to when wearing gloves is mandatory?
  • Do they correctly perceive the risk involved in not wearing gloves, such as exposure to toxins?

Both positive and negative consequences can influence behavior and bring about the desired results.

Employees who are injured due to a coworker’s failure to follow safety precautions or an employer’s negligence may be eligible for compensation.

Source: Safety Daily Advisor, “What Are Your Workers Doing When Nobody’s Looking?,” ckilbourne, accessed May. 13, 2015