Organizations in all different industries deal with safety in the workplace, from ergonomic and MSD hazards for office workers, to fall prevention on construction sites, or even lockout and tag-out procedures in a factory. Although some sectors face unique health and safety challenges, safety professionals across trades are united in how they view the importance of compliant staff and standards.
MySafetySign’s 2015 Health and Safety Industry Survey showcased an overarching theme in worker behavior. Over 50% of safety professionals view their staff’s attitude as uninterested and obstructive to implementing health and safety protocols in their workplaces. Management, on the other hand, was viewed in a more positive light: 60% of survey participants felt that their organization took safety seriously. Leadership contributes a chief ingredient in effective workplace safety culture.
Why is there a safety divide between workers and management?
View more survey data graphs here.
Jim Loud, who consulted on the MySafetySign survey, said, “The assumption that safety problems are worker problems rather than management, organizational, systemic, or cultural problems is time honored, but overly simplistic and misguided.” We need to direct attention at the root culprits – namely, weaknesses in organizational safety systems. Since worker attitudes shouldn’t be the default blame for deficiencies in workplace safety, let’s investigate the other trending health and safety barriers that are impacted by weak systems:
- Staff do not understand the problems or risks at work
- Workers’ lack of involvement in the health and safety process
- Organizational resistance to change
- Lack of safety culture
How do we bridge the gap between workers and management?
Making safety everyone’s responsibility is easier said than done, but is a crucial component of reversing safety issues. The organization at large must not consider staff as pawns in a game of chess; rather, as dynamic and impactful parts to the whole. Whether it’s a construction foreman, factory line worker, or farmhand, every worker has the potential to contribute intangible value beyond their literal job duties.
Hold regular meetings to encourage personal interactions between staff and management. Although it might be the more convenient, quick and dirty option, it’s dangerous to point fingers at workers without considering their possible input or the larger structure.
Your company’s efforts are more likely to stick when the whole organization is on the same page and aware of each other’s stance in advancing health and safety practices. If some of your workers are not under management’s direction, it’s like patching holes in a sinking ship. Accidents and near-misses are more likely to occur – which violates the core of the safety profession, and your safety standards in the workplace.