Overcoming Resistance to Safety Standards


I am trying to encourage employees to work safely, but often meet with resistance and feel like people only behave when the safety guys are around. How can I create long-term change and encourage employees to take responsibility for creating a safe work environment? Seeking Workplace Safety


Thanks for asking this important question. At first, it seems strange that people would resist following safe work practices. After all, none of us wants to be injured at work. Yet the problem you describe is very common-in part because many of us already feel safe at work.

Our workplaces are far safer than they used to be. In the U.S., time lost due to injuries has dropped by more than 50 percent since 1991. This means many of the most obvious sources of danger have been addressed and resolved. Now we are focusing on less obvious dangers and more stubborn behaviors.

Another complication is that many of the most dangerous behaviors are ones we are guilty of in our personal lives as well as at work. We accept the risks at home and we think we should be able to take the same risks at work.For example, many of the most fatal workplace accidents involve bad driving behaviors-we fail to buckle up, we speed, we drive carelessly, and we back into things. Another huge source of injuries involves bad ladder behaviors-we fail to use a ladder when we should, we don't tie off our ladder, or we carry tools in our hands as we climb the ladder.
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