April 22, 2015

What are your employees’ attitudes to Health & Safety?

Could your workers’ attitudes towards Health & Safety be causing accidents in your business?

A large number of accidents in the workplace are caused by employees behaving in careless or unusual ways.

Since the 1974 Act, businesses generally focused on managing safety in practical terms – i.e. guards in place, edge protection checklist etc.

However, Health and Safety professionals are now looking into understanding the thinking behind the actions that result in accidents.

Attitudes to safety can be difficult to manage – but current studies into behaviour may offer a way forward for managers to understand, and address, poor attitudes towards safety at work.

Employees’ attitudes towards Health & Safety are expressed in statements they make. For example:

  • The equipment does not do the job (how they think it should).
  • It takes to long to do it that way I can be done faster (my way).
  • We don’t need that guard in place. It only makes work.

Comments such as these expose the behaviours which could cause accidents. Actions such as modifying equipment or altering safety systems to make life simpler are likely to cause problems later on.

The reasons that errors occur in the first place are usually the responsibility of management.

Implementing a ‘behavioural safety’ approach

If you are considering using a behavioural safety approach to health and safety management, communicating with employees is crucial to success.

You’ll need to put the following into practice…

  • Management will need to understand how the human factor impacts on the safety culture of the organisation
  • Must be visible to staff members and alert in observing both attitude and behaviour able to act promptly on unsafe acts
  • Are your employees getting clear guidance about safety?

With all of the above criteria in place, if you decide to embark on the behavioural safety intervention approach, the following general advice may be useful:

  • Ensure you define ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ behaviour
  • Promote safe behaviour
  • Where unsafe behaviour is identified re educate
  • Provide feedback to reinforce safe behaviour
  • There is much of the above that already apply to your health and safety management procedures
  • The main aim of behavioural safety   is to reduce accidents injuries by the modification of behaviour
  • Proactive in visual observable assessment of worst case scenario
  • Evaluating what might be done to avoid the consequences and putting it in to effect.

If you need advice on this topic, or any other Health & Safety problem you may be having,contact us.

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