People with a negative attitude to health and safety at work often become careless, which means they are at a greater risk of an accident. As health and safety professionals, negative attitudes are a serious problem you need to deal with.
Safety and health regulations are sometimes seen as a bother to production or productivity. Employers may not see the benefits of increased safety and workers may feel it is a load of extra work. This negative view, however, has huge effects on businesses. Cutting corners, resistance to new policies and dangerous behavior in the workplace can lead to accidents, which leads to increased costs.
It’s not easy to change a negative attitude to safety and it’s a lengthy process. However, the impacts of a positive safety culture are well worth the energy. As employees feel more valued (and safe), productivity and quality of work go up and thus an increase in profitability can be noted. Additionally, employees are less likely to leave the company. So investing in safety means investing in a company.
As stated before changing negativity takes time and dedication. A critical first step is to create clarity, show each worker what impact they have on achieving safety. This way they can understand how each task, meeting, policy and project matters to the organization as a whole.
A way to achieve this is to educate employees and incorporate real life examples of accidents and their consequences. Doing this, the reason for safety measures becomes tangible. Education on risks also helps prevent complacency, as workers are once again made aware of the fall hazards they face while at work.
Lead by example
Commitment from management is very important in turning around negative attitudes. When senior management demonstrates that safety is important to them by, for example, participating in safety training, it shows workers their health and safety is important to their employer.
Management should also listen more closely to concerns employees have about health and safety. Consult with employees about their work and the pressures they face. If managers and supervisors act on signals they receive from employees, it will most likely reflect positively. After all, people want to feel listened to.
Allowing someone a break when they ignore safety rules encourages further breaking of rules, as there are no consequences. But blaming workers for safety breaches can also be counterproductive. The chance exists that they will not report future incidents or issues. Instead focus on learning from errors, this way you ensure you do not blame people. Provide context to the rules to ensure they know safety regulations are for their own welfare.
Also recognize workers for displaying positive safety behaviors. A compliment goes a long way, and will make employees feel good about their efforts. This positive feeling will help increase proactive safety behavior.
Download safety poster
Safety is all about commitment and attitudes. HSE professionals need the company to demonstrate a care for the safety and wellbeing of their employees. But safety is a team effort. Therefore, a negative attitude needs to be turned around. Download our poster with tips on how to do so.