Section E People-Related Issues

It is interesting to note that most of what is done in life is accomplished with others and through others. It no wonder that our success is dependent on understanding each other's actions and how they apply to everyday life. The principle of working with others is dependent upon how well our communications are sent and received by those in our workplace. Suffice it to say that these principles are as important to conveying and fostering occupational safety and health (OSH) in the work environment as they are to any other part of our life, and using these elements will accomplish a great deal with regards to obtaining a safe and healthy workplace.

The contents of this section are as follows:

Chapter 24—Motivating Safety and Health

Chapter 25—Behavior-Based Safety

Chapter 26—Safety Culture

Chapter 27—Communicating Safety and Health

Chapter 28—Bullying

Chapter 29—Safety (Toolbox) Talks

Chapter 30—Incentives/Rewards

Motivating Safety and Health

It is always interesting that while working with employers as well as safety and health professionals, there is such a time and effort investment in developing a safety and health initiative. At times, the cost is sizable. But when motivating employees is mentioned, employers are looking for a quick fix. Seldom do they take time to plan, apply principles of behavior, or invest reasonable amounts of money to motivate employees to work in a safe manner. This seems even odder when one considers that all workplaces are made up of employees and these are the individuals at whom the safety and health effort is aimed. Many times, employers and others say, "What can we give them?" Often, when given a reward or incentive, employees do not even understand why they are receiving it. What most employers and others are asking is, "What is the quick fix?" They think that they can easily address such a complex subject as human behavior by throwing some money at it or giving employees a trinket. It seems reasonable to assert that much more effort should be invested in "getting safety" than usually occurs.

Employers take little, if any, time to think about motivating safety and health. This certainly seems like an oversight when data indicate that 85% to 90% of accident are likely the result of unsafe behavior (acts). With this realization, it seems beyond logic that employers do not pay more attention to motivation in the workplace, especially related to occupational safety and health (OSH) performance.

A word of caution: paying attention to developing motivational approaches to safety and health will be to no avail unless all of the other components discussed in this book are addressed first.

It cannot be expected that workers will be motivated toward safety and health without the foundation of a safety and health program in place. Workers cannot be motivated without knowing what they are expected to be motivated about (or even why they should care about being motivated) if the company hasn't made the effort to define and direct the performance desired regarding safety and health. Much of the development and planning for implementing a motivational approach will have already been completed if the guidelines provided in this book are implemented. These guidelines will have the needed directions, goals, policies, and procedures in place. Another word of caution is that there is no foolproof motivation plan that is fail-safe and assures employers of achieving the results that they desire. As we all know, the most difficult tasks faced in the workplace are those where people are involved.

The reason that most failures occur in trying to get the type of motivation desired is that attempts to change people's values, which are set in early life, or change their attitudes, which are an integral part of their personalities, are met with resistance. Both values and attitudes are not measurable or easily observable and are accepted or rejected based upon an individual's set of values and attitudes. The best that can be hoped for is to change an individual's behavior, which is observable and measurable. Over time, the workers' attitudes may change, or their values may be altered by the employer's motivational attempt, but that is not as important as obtaining safe and healthy work behavior. It is imperative that employers motivate workers to exhibit a behavior that will keep them safe and healthy in the performance of their jobs.

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