Sometimes people hijack themselves and their goals with certain behaviors; often stress is at the root of the problem. For instance, one day we were standing in line at the bank to do business when a lady in the line next to us began a tirade about a check she was trying to cash. It was not clear what the problem was, but the teller tried diligently to communicate with the customer that the transaction was not legal.
Far too often, workers ignore even the most basic, yet life-saving safety procedures -- procedures like using machine guards, apply appropriate protection when working around electricity, and wearing proper personal protective equipment. On further investigation, I often find that these workers just simply don't like the safe work procedures of their company. They consider safety something that someone is "doing to them" rather than a way to protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families. They don't take safety personally.
What you don't know can get you hurt, and what you think you know can get you hurt as well. When it comes to safety the person who is at risk for injury must be aware of the hazard and what can be done to control the hazard and prevent injury. This is one of the three E's of safety: Evaluation, Education, and Enforcement.
One of the most difficult aspects of safety is understanding the role of employee expectations. When employees have expectations about safety that are different than their employer’s, serious issues exist that lead to distractions and ultimately to a culture that is disjointed. One way to understand employee expectations is to consider the psychological contract.
"Working with both employers and employees, the Department of Labor will not be satisfied until there are no workplace deaths due to failure to comply with safety rules." -- U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis
I think we all agree with Secretary Solis when she said, "With every one of these fatalities, the lives of a worker's family members were shattered and forever changed. We can't forget that fact."
Organizations that excel in health and safety management have a system to ensure self-inspections of the workplace are routinely scheduled. The system must include written procedures that:
• require the inspection team to include personnel qualified to recognize workplace hazards, top management, and employees who have knowledge of the written procedures and hazard recognition.
Having a safe workplace requires everyone to communicate in such a way that the goal of working without personal injury or equipment damage is clear, and that nobody gets the idea that safety rules, procedures, and work practices can be ignored - even if it means getting the job done quicker. Consider the following anecdote, for instance.
Sometimes people show up at safety meetings just to make an appearance. Not too long ago, a human resource director came to a safety meeting that was also attended by employees and supervisors. This was all fine and good until the HR director sat down at a table near the back of the room, brought out a laptop and a pile of paperwork and proceeded to work during the meeting. The director seemed to be multi-tasking by working and listening to the speaker. Yet, it was disconcerting for others in the room to see this behavior. What kind of signal was being sent here?
Heroes abound in the safe water landing of US Airways flight 1549 on January 16, 2009, in the Hudson River: the flight crew, the New York Waterways ferry operators and other watercraft operators, police and fire rescue teams, the Red Cross and other first responders, as well as the 155 passengers. The whole event has been dubbed "the miracle on the Hudson". This is a great event – one in which many things went well.