Much like how OSHA’s top ten list features the same problems year after year, most safety pros will tell you they are continually plagued by the same handful of problems. No two workplaces are exactly alike, but when you speak to health and safety managers across North America you’ll hear the same issues mentioned again and again.
These common pain points are problems that arise within the company that safety managers can easily identify but struggle to solve. They are a nuisance, they are predictable and they stifle OHS professionals’ progress.
We speak to thousands of safety folks every year. We’ve found that not everyone has all of these problems—and there are certainly other ones too—but nearly every single workplace suffers from at least one of the following four safety pains.
1. Common injuries
Sprains and strains, slips, trips and falls, cuts and contusions, and back injuries are among the most common workplace incidents. Typical responses to these issues include engineering, buying new products, adding more policies and procedures, reintroducing the same compliance training, and telling employees to be more careful.
Unfortunately, these measures have been shown to have little long-term impact because the hazards were already known—the problem is with employee perception, not a hidden danger. These injuries affect the company’s TRI rate and can lead to a continual struggle to bring that rate down.
2. Critical decisions
After an incident, safety pros are often left asking why.
Some employees take known risks, choose shortcuts, or ignore the rules and regulations that have been set out for them. And when these lead to injuries, it can leave a safety professional feeling helpless or thinking workers deliberately ignore the rules which is often not the case. Clearly, providing a set of rules or equipment is not enough (choosing not to wear the PPE provided can have devastating results). It’s as if there needs to be two safety playbooks—one that contains all the necessary, compliance measures, and one that teaches safety managers how to influence employees to actually follow them.
3. Employee engagement with safety culture
The us vs. them mentality is still present in many companies. There’s a disconnect between management and frontline workers. No matter what kind of changes are made within the facility, employees will not be engaged if they feel the company is only looking out for themselves. The most common struggle is to get employees to take personal accountability for their own safety. The problem is bad enough if it were to stop there, but there’s a number of spin-off effects. When employees are not engaged in the safety culture, supervisors and employees will witness at-risk behavior but they do not intervene. Productivity and morale are low. And when these problems occur, OHS managers rarely see a clear path to improving engagement and building a stronger safety culture.
4. Business alignment
Any company head will tell you that safety is their number one priority. But a behind-the-scenes look usually tells a different story. When stacked against production, downtime and overall cost, safety training often takes a back seat. Safety specialists always need to make the case for funding. Production concerns can take precedence over safety procedures. And the company does the bare minimum for safety training… leading to bare minimum results. Safety managers intuitively know that proper safety training that will actually save money, but many aren’t able to demonstrate that to the CFO.
The Pain with Problems
These pain points may not seem like urgent problems. But if left unchecked they can lead to a huge amount of (sometimes invisible) risk permeating your workplace—causing a much bigger pain. Serious injuries are always unexpected and are usually the result of a combination of these problems lining up unexpectedly.
Identifying common problems is pretty easy. Diagnosing them is a little more difficult. But once you do, solving them is much easier.
If you’re experiencing any of these pain points, sign up for our 1-Day Discovery workshop to learn the concepts, techniques and learning design used in SafeStart to combat these safety problems (Hint: it’s not about rules, procedures, or engineering).
You have four options to begin solving these four problems:
- Sign up for a 1-Day Discovery Workshop.
- Register for our free 45-minute public webinar.
- Call 800-810-0142 to speak with one of our trusted advisors (they’ve collectively talked with thousands of safety professionals about these exact pain points).
- Continue doing the same things in safety and hoping for a different outcome.
Note: Number four is also roughly how Einstein defined insanity—that should be your last resort.