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Overcoming Five Risky Safety Perceptions


Positive perceptions about safety are essential for achieving safety excellence. They play a significant role in shaping employees' attitudes and behaviors. Here are some strategies to address and transform potentially harmful beliefs about safety before they become ingrained in the workplace culture:


  1. Achievability of Zero Recordables: Many doubt the possibility of achieving zero recordable incidents, primarily because they are unaware of similar successes in their industry or can't identify prevention opportunities in their own incidents. To change this perspective, share success stories from similar work environments and conduct a Pareto Analysis of recent incidents to highlight specific prevention strategies.

  2. Proactive Safety Measures: Distinguishing between being 'safe' and 'lucky' is key. Safety excellence is not just the absence of accidents; it involves actively reducing risk and practicing precaution. Clarifying this definition and helping each employee understand their role in hazard control and injury prevention is crucial.

  3. Shared Responsibility for Safety: If safety is seen as the job of a specific individual or department, it undermines the collective responsibility. Safety is a joint effort: management creates a safe working environment, safety professionals ensure compliance and proactive risk management, but everyone must actively participate. Successful sites define safety roles and expectations behaviorally and tailor them to different levels within the organization.

  4. Acknowledging Personal Risk: Long-term, injury-free task performance can lead to complacency, but it's important to recognize that risk is always present. Training should focus on identifying low-probability risks and creating an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing 'close calls' or lucky escapes.

  5. Striving Beyond Good: Believing that 'good is good enough' can inadvertently signal that a few injuries are tolerable. Safety excellence is a continuous process, driven by a collective commitment to constantly improving and reducing risks, even in the absence of incidents. Regular audits, inspections, and observations help in identifying areas for improvement.


For lasting change in safety perceptions, self-discovery is key. People are more likely to embrace a new perspective when they arrive at it through continuous information and varied experiences. Forcibly changing someone's views is ineffective and unsustainable. Instead, altering experiences and providing guidance can naturally lead to a shift in perceptions.

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