Complacency in the workplace has become a leading contributor to many injuries or illnesses acquired while at work. Routines develop and safety standards are slowly forgotten or replaced by shortcuts. This complacency is gradual enough that overseers and supervisors fail to notice the change and begin to accept lower work quality. As complacency takes a firmer hold, more shortcuts are found, resulting in more accidents and hazards. There are even times when employees fail to report an accident of “almost-accident” because they do not see sufficient reason or just don’t bother. This can start both employees and employers blaming the other. In order to minimize, and hopefully eliminate workplace complacency, implement one or all of these five workplace safety strategies.
1. Know each employee on a individual level. Having been raised to respect each individual, as a supervisor you boost your authority among the employees by treating each person with respect. Become familiar with those who work with or under you and they will be more willing to come to your with any safety concerns they may have. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their safety related concerns and go over any company policies you feel need to be reviewed. It is your job to make sure they understand. When a safety concern is brought to your attention, do not ignore it. Even the smallest issue must be taken seriously in order to make sure each employee feels that their concerns are valid and not being ignored.
2. Focus on safety as a main topic in management planning. Make safety the priority in all aspects of the workplace, including the organizational and normal meetings. Bring up some of the suggesting made by employees to corporate. The employees are the ones living in the work environment and have more insights into what might need to happen in regards to safety. Change will happen faster and improvements made when the concerns are brought up consistently in meetings. Be sure you don’t easy over the negative effects that lackluster safety efforts will cause the company.
3. Regularly review ALL safety reports. Not only is it important to review the injury reports but also the reports that were deemed “near misses” and didn’t result in an actual injury. Both can illuminate potential workplace safety problems. Part of reviewing these reports is meeting with those involved in the reports. Know how the injured employees are doing. Interview those who had “almost” accidents to see if any change in safety policies should be considered for future prevention. Make sure that if change is required, that the necessary steps are taken.
4. Incorporate every employee into the safety process. Reward and recognize those employees who make an effort in being involved in safety. As a way to help each employee to do more, create a safety committee that is voluntary. Many employees join committees in the hopes of improving their chances of promotion. If the company is too large for one committee, move to implement one in each department. Have the members of the committee to work together on enforcing safety without the need of a higher authority looking over their shoulders.
Regular safety meetings where all committee members are allowed to voice any of their concerns will empower them. Also, another great way to minimize corporate complacency is to put together contests regarding safety. For example, offer a bonus to those who are incident-free for a specified period of time. Money can be a big incentive to avoid sliding into complacency or negligence.
5. Put together a system for reporting safety problems. Tattletales are often irritating and annoying, but also shouldn’t be ignored. If they have or see safety concerns, listen to what they have to say. Most employees don’t speak up in order to avoid conflict. Respect everyone’s need of non-confrontation by having a system where they can submit tips anonymously. If action needs to be taken against a specific employee, never reveal from whom you learned of the problem. By allowing anonymity people will be more willing to come forward and everyone will follow the safety guidelines and suggestions that you are trying to implement. When everyone knows that they can be reported without being able to find out who “tattled”, they will be more likely to be careful in the workplace.
Complacency is easily avoided by making safety an integral part of environment in the workplace. Both employees and supervisors must see how safety is a part of every aspect of the workplace, including the dangers of safety complacency. Videos, pictures, or exposure to real-life examples of what complacency can cause. Bring the theoretical into reality. Once a regular safety plan is firmly integrated into the workplace culture, it is much easier for everyone to enjoy the safety found in their workplace.