For the sake of a safer workplace – it’s OK to “CRY WOLF”

This post is part of an ongoing series asking leading OSH consultants about their tips for engaging employees in the workplace health and safety process.

Too often, employees feel that if they raise a concern that turns out to be nothing, they will be punished or ridiculed and the path of least resistance is to assume that it is someone else’s job to raise an issue, or that the observed deviation from normal is not a big deal.

  • Employees need to be knowledgeable enough to recognise when and how to intervene, and be willing to do so.
  • The challenge for leaders is to create a culture in which employees not only recognize when things start to go off track, but are willing and able to intervene to prevent a small problem from becoming a major event.
  • If employees are given the opportunity to participate in making decisions that affect their job, they become more actively involved in the work that they do.

Getting employees more involved has three main psychological benefits.

  1. Employees become more focused on their work; they are more alert, active and prepared to perform, they do not become easily distracted and therefore are less likely to make errors that may lead to an accident.
  2. Participation motivates employees to contribute more.  A motivated employee will balance their own and the organisation’s needs.  If their job is designed to give them intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, then they will be more committed to the organisation and therefore the goals that the organisation sets around health and safety.
  3. Participating in decision making can help employees to become more accountable and therefore help them to achieve the health safety goals of the organisation and therefore feel safer at work.

About the Author

David Whiting is an international safety specialist who works with you in developing corporate safety strategy and management systems with 30+ years’ experience who interacts with both organisations, lead and legal bodies in an international arena.

He’s an experienced HSEQ professional with operational knowledge from diverse industrial sectors with a track record in setting strategic direction and development in teams who work in global capacity where they are facing competency issues in today’s business economy.

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