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  • Writer's pictureLeverage Safety

The Power of Perception

Updated: Jul 18

Perceptions shape our beliefs, and our beliefs, in turn, influence how we approach safety decisions and the work culture we operate in. Work cultures are the culmination of reinforced practices, values, and perceptions. They serve as the ultimate mechanism for safety sustainability. Understanding and addressing the most dangerous perceptions that hinder the achievement and maintenance of safety culture excellence is crucial. Let's explore these perceptions and assess if they exist in your organization.

  1. Zero recordables isn't possible: Many multinational organizations have successfully sustained the challenging goal of zero recordable injuries. However, it's important to note that zero recordables shouldn't be the sole measure of safety excellence. It merely represents a failure rate and encourages a mindset focused on avoiding failure rather than seeking success. Yet, the belief in the attainability of this goal is paramount for its sustainable pursuit.

  2. Safety excellence means not getting hurt: The misconception that safety equates to not getting hurt is perpetuated by how many companies measure safety. When time passes without incidents, it reinforces the perception that taking risks is acceptable as long as no injuries occur. It's vital for society to distinguish between safety and luck. The measurements used in safety, both formal and perceptual, should reflect this distinction.

  3. Safety is not my job: While creating a safe working environment is primarily the responsibility of the company, safety cannot be solely entrusted to the organization. Each individual within the organization must recognize their role in minimizing their exposure to risks, both on and off the job. Personal precautions and awareness are essential in maintaining a safe environment.

  4. It won't happen to me: A common belief among individuals before experiencing an injury is the conviction that it won't happen to them. As organizations improve safety, they often reach a plateau in safety performance as they eliminate high-probability risks. What remains are low-probability risks that may be overlooked due to a lack of common sense and experience. Every environment carries inherent risks that cannot be engineered out completely. Complacency becomes a dangerous factor. It is crucial to maintain a sense of vulnerability and acknowledge that accidents can happen to anyone. Recognizing these risks and taking personal steps to minimize exposure is vital.

  5. We are already good: Many companies boast impressive safety performance measurements, leading to the belief that they are already good in terms of safety. This perception can be dangerous. Well-intentioned safety executives may inadvertently reinforce this belief by implementing generic programs that don't align with the organization's culture, resulting in little recognition of their value. As a consequence, employees may feel that no further improvements can be made.

Overcoming these perceptions is essential for cultivating a robust safety culture. It requires a shift in mindset, ongoing education, and tailored safety programs that align with the organization's unique culture. It's crucial to address these perceptions head-on and promote a collective understanding of safety that goes beyond surface-level measurements. By doing so, organizations can foster a culture that actively seeks safety excellence and continuously strives for improvement.

Remember, safety is not just a program or a set of rules; it's a collective responsibility that permeates every aspect of an organization. By challenging and reshaping these perceptions, organizations can create a culture where safety is ingrained in every employee's mindset, leading to long-lasting safety culture excellence.

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