Why Zero Injuries Does NOT Always Mean Your Worksite is Safe

Have You Reached a Safety Plateau? Don’t Rely on the Flavor of the Month to Help

As a behavioral scientist I understand the impact of emotion on behavior.  It can both enhance and inhibit.  If someone is asked to do something that does not work to produce the results they expect (or have achieved in the past), they get frustrated and stop doing the behavior.  On the other hand, when they are excited they can’t get enough of what excites them and related behaviors increase in frequency.

When you implement a process within your more comprehensive safety program, emotions are experienced by employees.  If the implementation is done correctly, you generate excitement and behavior to support the change.  Employees are involved and engaged.   Then, as time passes, employee involvement and excitement appears to diminish.  Behavioral science helps us understand why.

Once the process has been in place for a while and is working as intended, the “low-hanging fruit” have been picked.  As a result, increased effort is needed to continue producing the intended benefits.  Unless you have explicitly programmed strategies to keep employees excited about the process, frustration will set-in because results are not as visible or require more effort to get.  The process loses value to those you’ve asked to be involved with it.  Subsequently, management decides it’s time for something else. A “flavor of the month” syndrome sets in, which produces a whole set of other problems from a psychological perspective.

We suggest that you need to avoid flavor of the month.  One way to do this is recognize the value of the systems you currently have in place and the success they have produced at one point or you wouldn’t have kept them around.  Your challenge is not to re-invent the wheel, but to realign it.  And, the Center for Behavioral Safety can help you to do this.

Contact us today to learn how we can do a comprehensive review of your Safety Program for key elements of safety success such as leadership/management commitment, employee involvement, worksite analysis and hazard recognition programs, opportunities for proactive trend analysis, quality of training, and so on.  Alternatively, you may want us to look at one system within your program, a BBS process, near-miss reporting system, or incentive program.  We will evaluate each for strengths and weaknesses based on 18 years of experience applying knowledge from 120 years of behavioral science helping facilities just like yours reach true zero. 

So, don’t succumb to flavor of the month to get employees involved in safety.  It won’t work. Instead, generate excitement regarding existing flavors that have historically left a good taste in your mouth and in the mouths of the employees who make them work.

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