Safety 2.0: A Culture of Care blog series #1

Safety 2.0 is the beginning of the A Culture of Care blog series. It will be focusing on understanding workers behaviors and engaging workers’ culture. The goal will be to break through incident rate plateaus through incorporating behaviors into the safety systems.

What is Safety 2.0?

It is a concept that seeks to understand why employees may resist certain safety procedures, how to create buy-in into the safety system, creating policies that are conducive to how people work, and more.

Why Safety 2.0

Prior to OSHA’s creation it is reported that in 25 years more that 50 million Americans had disabling injures from work-related incidents. At the same time more that 400,000 Americans lost their lives from work incidents or occupational disease. Following OSHA’s inception workplace fatalities have been cut by 60% and the occupational injury and illness were reduced by 40%. All while US employment has nearly doubled from 56 million workers to 105 million workers.

These advancements came from administrative and engineering controls around energy. In the first three decades OSHA was very active creating new regulations on all types of energy. These new standards included asbestos, lead, carcinogen, cotton dust, right to refuse unsafe tasks, chemical safety, combustible grain dust, trenching, noise, and much more. In comparison during the last two decades OSHA has slowed down on creating new areas for regulatory controls as the regulations covered almost all types of energy. Instead they have switched to strengthening the current regulations, creating partnership programs and focusing on OH&S concerns around human rights in the workplace.

What this tells us that we know how control energy. However, in 2019 there were still 2.8 million non-fatal workplace incidents in America and 5,333 fatal incidents. What this means is controlling energy by administrative and engineering controls is only partially effective. There is more work to do if only 60% of fatalities and 40% of injuries and occupational disease have been resolved.

This also tells us that the gains from Safety 2.0 can be huge and is well worth the effort to learn and implement them.

Focusing on the People

What occurred by creating OSHA was they drove regulations through financial penalties to company’s. Then companies developed policies and forced compliance onto their employees.  As a result demanding compliance on organizations and employees worked as we’ve seen in the reduced injury and fatality rates listed above. Even so, this only had limited effects as demanding compliance on employees is not engaging them but controlling them. Due to this, some people naturally have pushed back towards the safety systems as they do not like to feel controlled. Even when it is for their best interest like a policy that prevents bodily harm to them.

To optimize a policies function it must include the employee in its development and it must be conducive to the task. That engagement will drive systemic improvements towards the use of the systems. This will gain the employees trust where they believe in the systems. The end result will be a stronger culture that is safer, happier, and more productive!

In the blogs to follow will be looking into engaging behaviors by:

  • looking why people resist safety procedures,
  • include the worker it into the processes by defining their culture,
  • creating a culture of vulnerable-based trust, and
  • move the safety system to being interdependent with a Culture of Care.

This journey will benefit any professional looking to advance their organizations safety systems into the future. I hope you join me as we learn and grow together.

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Stay safe