Why Conduct a Postobservation?

A brief postobservation discussion should be held with the employee. One of two things should be done. If the job was done as required, the employee should be complimented. Recognition, when deserved and when sincerely given, will reinforce safe behavior. This acts as a positive motivation for the worker. Any unsafe behavior seen during the observation should be discussed. If the employee performed in an unsafe manner, the supervisor should discuss what occurred and get the employee's reasons for doing the job as it was done.

The concern now is not with what has been done but with changing the employee's behavior so the same thing is not done in the future. The supervisor must take required corrective action and should give the reasons behind the measures. The postobservation conference should always end with the feeling that things are right between the supervisor and the employee.

Why Deal with Unsafe Behaviors or Poor Performance?

Dealing with unsafe performance may be helpful in determining why unsafe practices are continuing. A step-by-step procedure to follow in correcting unsafe performance can be developed. The supervisor should record the specific unsafe performance that has been observed and determine the type of accident that could result from this action. Since this action and the possible results have already been discussed with the employee after or during the first observation, the supervisor must decide what has caused this action to continue.

  • • The first step is to identify the performance problem. In this area, the performance problem may be someone's actual performance and his/her desired performance.
  • • Is the problem worth solving? Not every performance problem is worth solving. The problem needs to be evaluated realistically. What impact will the performance problem have on doing the job safely? If the problem has or can have no adverse impact, then ignore it.
  • • In determining the cause, you need to ask about or try to find out the cause of the performance problem. Could this person do it if he/she really had to? If the answer to this question is no, then the question needs to be asked, does the employee have the potential to perform this job safely? Both physical and mental capabilities must be assessed in this area. If the answer to this question is no, then the job may have to be changed to fit the employee's ability, or if possible, the employee can be placed in a job that fits his/her capabilities. If the employee has the potential to do the job, then the question needs to be asked, has the person ever performed the job? If the answer to the question is no, then classroom or on-the-job training will be necessary.

If the person has performed the job, refresher training may be all that is necessary.

  • • If the employee could do the job if he/she really had to, then a nontraining solution will help to identify and solve the performance problem. One way to solve the nontraining problem is to provide feedback. Feedback should come from management being aware of the problem, observing the employee, or simply making the employee aware that he/she is expected to do the job correctly.
  • • Another way to solve the problem is to eliminate constraints or barriers. Tools, equipment, and time might be in this category since these constraints can take many forms. Ergonomic considerations in job design are an example of a potential constraint. Employees forced to stoop, bend, twist, turn, stretch, lean, reach, or assume unnatural postures to perform routine tasks are subject to discomfort and fatigue. Discomfort and fatigue may distract from immediate hazards, and chronic physical stresses may make employees prime candidates for cumulative trauma disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
  • • Other constraints or barriers that could adversely impact performance include conflicting demands on the employee's time, authority, and proper tools to perform the required task. Are there incentives at work? Is nonperformance rewarded? This may occur if the job is easier to do unsafely or the employee gets a break if the job is done quickly. Management needs to address this reward problem by eliminating any rewards for poor performance. One way to do this is for management to make sure their only concern is not just that the job is completed but that the employee is not punished if the job takes longer than normal.
  • • Is good performance punished? One way of punishing good work is by assigning additional work to that "good" employee. Management needs to eliminate "good performance punishment" by eliminating the negative effects and create, or increase the strength of, positive or desirable consequences.
  • • Is there a positive change? If a positive change occurs, then this change has to be maintained through periodic feedback, praise, and recognition. This must be done on a continuing basis to keep the behavior at a constant level.
  • • If a positive change does not occur, other actions may need to take place. It has to be determined whether there are meaningful actions for the desired performance.

If there are no meaningful actions, then the remedy may be to arrange to take actions to make safety matter to the employee. This may be disciplinary action.

JSO that is implemented properly provides the foundation for addressing unsafe performance, which will equate to continuous improvement with regard to workplace safety and health.

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