The employee experience, covers a lot of ground. Individualization, compensation, work/life balance, company mission, leadership transparency, recognition, teamwork, accomplishment – all these are essential components of the unwritten social contract employers have with their workers.
But there’s one aspect that outranks them all: safety. When life or limb are lost, nothing else in the employee experience matters. A company has no responsibility more important than the protection of people’s lives.
The same hazards keep killing workers. What’s most likely to kill someone is not a trick question. It’s an openbook exam. Vehicles (on and off the road), heights (falling from them or being stuck by something falling from above), electricity and getting caught in machinery killed a high percentage of workers in 2017 just as they killed high percentages in previous years. Known hazards killing workers in predictable ways is a textbook definition of complacency.
An employer or supervisor can’t stand by you every second to see that safety rules are followed. You must take charge of your safety because you have the most to gain – and the most to lose.
Injuries result when a worker fails to take responsibility for safety – by ignoring safety procedures or consuming drugs or alcohol at work, for example. You could suffer burns, broken bones, electrocution, crushing, chemical injuries, concussion or other injuries if you don’t take safety precautions.
The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. The recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Traditional approaches are often reactive –that is, problems are addressed only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed.
Investigations of fatal incidents around the world have demonstrated that in order to achieve safe and fatality free production the following elements are essential:
- Maintaining a sense of vulnerability – complacency built on past success blinds us to warning signs
- Ensuring continuous improvement in environment, equipment, strategy and systems
- Applying the hierarchy of controls – eliminate the risk and reduce the chance of human error
- Increasing the focus on high potential near fatal events
- Recognizing the personal – fatal accidents are not just statistics
- Maintaining operating disciplines – combating the gradual shift to unsafe behaviors
- Maintaining alertness to increased and unexpected risks during abnormal operating conditions
- Addressing culture and leadership through objective assessment and, where required, improvement plans
- Providing courageous leadership in leading change and holding each individual in the business accountable for safe and fatality free production.