This question is a key consideration for your business if you are to keep your employees and your business safe and healthy. If you properly analyse the way your employees work in practice (rather than how you would like them to work) you might be surprised at the number of times people are short cutting your safe systems of working.
Of course you might not feel this is a concern because your accident rates are low and productivity appears to benefit from you looking the other way. However, has your business just been ‘lucky’ that something that has become custom and practice over time has not led to a serious accident?
Something we ask clients to do is to look closely at the near misses that have occurred over time and to think “what was the root cause of these?” We know from experience it is often because a system of work has broken down; generally because of a failure in our ability to control human behaviours.
So why is it that our employees might decide to do the job in a different way than we have designed and trained them to? Clearly it’s not because they go out of their way to injure themselves.
As we see it, the problem is that humans are often looking for the easy way to get the job done; a way they believe will benefit them and often because they think it will benefit the business. Dare we suggest that some of our people are too often looking for the easy way because they are lazy or because they feel it’s the only way to achieve the targets you are setting them.
Another key reason is that they don’t buy into the systems of work the business has developed. This may be because they have not been included in the risk assessment process or because we have failed to train them properly. Unfortunately, good training is so often something we see that is missing.
An important question to ask yourself is “do our employees work in the same safe way both when management is around and when working outside of normal working hours?” The answer to this is often very enlightening to a business. Also, are your managers leading by example; by placing unrealistic time pressures on employees or by turning a blind eye to unsafe practices, it sends out the wrong message about the ethos your business has to keeping healthy and safe.