Have you ever known a person who was seriously injured, or even killed at work? Maybe you've worked for a company that experienced a workplace fatality but didn't really know the person or persons involved? It goes without saying that fatality and serious injury events are catastrophic to all involved.
The normal human reaction is to find someone to blame. OSHA, unions and the friends and families of the injured or deceased want someone to blame, and avoid assigning responsibility to the "victim" to avoid feeling (or appearing) insensitive.
Company officials and leaders are personally devastated as well. As they cope with the event and try to determine the reason it occurred, employers must also work to comfort co-workers, family members and the community. They have the added burden of protecting the company image as well.
If only we could go back in time and change the events surrounding these tragedies. But we cannot.
The only thing we can do is care enough to arm employees with the best possible knowledge, the best tools, and the best working conditions possible. Of these, however, only knowledge will protect people from themselves.
I've seen and heard of dozens of serious injuries and too many fatalities during my time in the safety profession. Every single one of them could have been prevented. The great majority of them were a direct result of a choice the injured or deceased made that they had previously received training and had been warned about.
So who is to blame in such cases? The answer is that there is plenty of blame to go around. What really matters is taking the necessary steps that result in never having to look for someone to blame.
A few of the more important questions for you and your company are:
Do our employees take risks they are trained not to take?
Are we actively observing for both safe and at-risk behaviors?
Is our training adequate?
Do we effectively validate that each person understands their training?
Have we identified the risks that need to be addressed in our training if they cannot be eliminated through engineering changes?
Is our leadership culture one of holding people accountable for their own safety and the safety of others, or do we look the other way until something happens?
Do known risks go unresolved?
Ask your management team, your safety committee(s) and others to answer these questions anonymously and honestly. For a more thorough review expand on these questions and number each set of responses. While it will still provide for anonymity, it will allow for a review of each respondent's overall perception. The results should generate a list of actions that can be taken to improve overall safety at your company.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who roll the dice, either due to a lack of understanding or a lack of commitment. If you feel you are working in such a company get out now, before something happens that makes you wish you could time-travel.
If you would like to learn more about curriculum development, training integration strategies (more to come on this in the future), or interactive training - Contact Us Today!