Leading by Example

As a manager or supervisor, you are responsible for the employees you manage. And your attitude has a great deal of impact on how successful your safety program and safety culture will be.

Positive attitudes are conducive to safety performance and productivity, while negative attitudes can lead to accidents and injuries.

One major factor that comes into play here is the Normalization of Deviance. These are shortcuts to completing the task or job, and management allows this to occur knowingly or unknowingly. The normalization of deviance refers to the tendency of individuals, groups, or organizations to gradually accept a lower level of performance as the new standard until it becomes the norm for them. Certain attitudes towards safety can put people at risk.

  • Over-confidence: The belief that experience and skill can replace the need for safety precautions. We haven’t had a workplace accident in several months. The following question should be answered:
    • Did we safely do everything and follow our safety procedures, or were we just lucky?
  • Under-confidence: The belief that you cannot influence your safety environment. Possible underlying beliefs include:
    • That safety is a matter of chance, fate, or destiny, rather than personal
    • That the nature of your job requires overlooking safety practices.
    • That your organization does not care about safety and will not listen to your concerns.
    • That making safe choices will negatively impact how coworkers perceive you because it will slow you down.

Everyone should play an active role in the organization’s safety when they believe that they can and should do so. These positive beliefs include:

  • Accidents have causes that can always be prevented; remember, accidents hurt safety, doesn’t.
  • Accidents also interfere with production; therefore, safe work is efficient work.
  • Having employees working safely shows care for your employees and their families and loved ones.
  • Employees want to work in safe environments.
  • Coworkers will respect the good judgment and safe choices that organizations make.
  • Working safely is a mark of skill and positive professional conduct.
  • Everyone should be contributing to an organization’s positive safety record is essential.

Create a culture of safety:

  • Attitudes are contagious: Creating a good environment for safety practices and ideas makes everyone more likely to accept them.
  • Attitudes are influenced by example: Set an example by working safely and working for safety. Remember, as a leader of your organization, others will be influenced by what they see.
  • New hires are impressionable: They are strongly influenced by the behavior of the veteran workers and supervisors. Be sure new hires are given the correct direction and safety instructions from the start.

Remember your positive safety attitude will spread throughout the work culture if each supervisor and manager take an active part in the discussion of how accidents can be prevented.

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