SELF-IMPROVEMENT professionals — from weight-loss experts to exercise gurus to motivational speakers — will tell you that attitude is everything. To make any type of positive change in your life, the change must first begin in your own mind.
Unfortunately, an unsafe attitude toward workplace practices can have just as much influence on a person's behavior as a positive attitude — except for the worse. A potentially dangerous dis-regard for safety could lead to a serious workplace accident.
Safety is the top priority at the training company and safety publishing company that I lead, and we've learned a lot over the years, talking with safety professionals nationwide. I'd like to share some key observations with you.
Below are listed six phrases, each reflecting an unsafe attitude that could lead to workplace woes. Whenever you hear one of these phrases or something similar on the job, you should pay close attention to the situation at hand. You may be able to stop an accident before it has happened.
"We don't have time."
Investing time in safety training ultimately saves far more time than it loses for companies. Work time is lost whenever an injury or illness occurs, and that employee's expertise is removed from the workplace. If an employee dies because of a workplace accident or illness, surely that is the most tragic loss of all. There's always time to train to work safely.
"I know a shortcut."
People sometimes take shortcuts on the job because they are banking on the fact that nothing bad will happen. But these shortcuts can lead to complex problems or even disasters. For example, a worker may decide to use too short a ladder to reach the roof of a building because he doesn't want to find and transport a longer one. A ladder should extend 3 ft. beyond the top of a building, so the worker can step off the ladder onto the roof. If the worker uses one that's too short and has to climb up onto the roof, he could experience a nasty, or perhaps even fatal, fall. On the 2005 list of OSHA's 10 most commonly violated regulations, "Ladders" was entry No. 10, so one's choice in ladders can be a crucial decision.
"I think this is the right way to do it."
In the safety training classes held by our firm, we encourage safety professionals from a wide variety of industries to look up regulations whenever they are in doubt about a safety matter. Guessing or believing hearsay is always unwise.
To further encourage safety professionals to look up information, we've developed a graphical, colorful device that can be used in the books of government regulations. Usually, regulations from the Government Printing Office are published in black-and-white text blocks, and it can take hours to weeks to find needed information.
"Regulations don't change that often."
In truth, government regulations change on a fairly regular basis. Today's world is constantly changing, and each day brings new advances in technology. These changes are reflected in the regulations. That's why we print revised editions and offer update services for our regulation books. Regulations should be considered as works constantly in progress, and it is up to employers to stay updated on the rules that affect their companies.
"We'll fix it later."
No employee should be allowed to work with damaged equipment, whether it is a ladder, a forklift or even a hammer. A broken part can fly off and injure someone. In the case of a vehicle, the machine may malfunction or even tip over. Defective items need to be taken out of commission immediately.
"It's not in the budget."
Some people may think regular safety training is an expense that can be delayed or avoided altogether. But if an employee is injured or killed in an accident, the resulting medical expenses and possible OSHA fines would add up to an expense far greater than the cost of training. Safety instruction is always a worthwhile investment.
Ultimately, safety training leads to greater safety awareness and fewer work-related illnesses and accidents, which in turn means lower insurance costs and medical expenditures, as well as happier employees. A decrease in accident-related downtime results in an increase in productivity.
Some regulations may seem inconvenient or difficult to follow, but many were created because at some point, a worker experienced an injury that could have been prevented. As a result, a solution to the problem was born. When you observe the regulations, you can avoid major problems and expenses and enjoy a safer workplace.
Benjamin W. Mangan is the president and founder of American Safety Training Inc. and MANCOMM, two companies that develop and provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance products and safety training. More information is available at www.mancomm.com