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As your in-service safety provider, we wanted to send out this monthly safety message to raise awareness and enhance employee quality of life in your company. This monthly message deals with “Disinfecting Office Spaces, New OSHA Requirements, and First Aid Kit Updates.”

Employee’s Responsibility To Organizational Safety
As many of us in the organization have been working through this new normal with COVID-19, I think we can all agree that daily operations and workflow have changed for our employees. Some employees have been working remote and are preparing to go back to the office. In either case this may be a good time to review the points listed below to enhance workplace safety.

Employees Need To Do More Than See Hazards
Situational awareness is a real and important issue, but it is not very well understood. If you really think about situational awareness and how it applies to safety, think about Sherlock Holmes when he tells Dr. Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.” That’s really what we’re talking about. Situational awareness is about our ability to observe beyond seeing and put what we are observing into context.
It comes down to do we appreciate the hazards around us, can we put our exposure to those hazards in context and can we recognize the change in vulnerability to the hazard.

Engaging The Brain
One way to ensure employees can take all of this in is pausing work. This is about stepping back, engaging the brain, and thinking about the level of exposure. One study worked with a group of delivery drivers who they had shift gears in thinking about going from driver to delivery person as they perform their duties. The exposures and mindset of being a delivery person is totally different than that of a driver. What they were training them to do is when they show up to a home to deliver a product, they pause. They talk themselves through the new exposures they are about to get into. This is only for a few moments, but it allows them to think things through instead of just running on autopilot.

Getting Past The Safety Plateau: 3 keys
When you’re fortunate enough to have cut down on injuries or other safety issues, you probably feel like celebrating. But be careful you’re not hitting a safety plateau. This is when things have improved so much that problems level off. Everything seems to be going great, and you’re about as safe as ever. So it’s time to lay off a little, right? Wrong.

Before A Decline
On the other end of that plateau could be a serious dip. People could get complacent, seeing they’ve improved. Fresh safety lessons can fall out of mind. Rather than risking a fall or staying where you are, when you hit a safety plateau, keep climbing. Here are three ways to help:

1) Do not focus on negatives. If you have improved on your injury rate or stopped having accidents, that is great. But do not make it the focus of your safety talks. Workers may think, “We’ve fixed that problem, so why are the Supervisors still talking about it?” Instead, focus on things like training hours completed or observations conducted. These are things that can always be improved on.
Look outside the organization. Keep up to date on OSHA fines or news stories about companies that have had safety problems. Even if nothing has happened at your site recently, an accident can happen anywhere, any time. These stories will illustrate why training matters.
Increase observations. This is the best time to get your team hunting for potential hazards. When things are going well, every hazard spotted and corrected not only protects workers, it boosts the safety morale of the group.

Addressing Emotions In Risk Assessment
When talking about risks and hazards it is important to keep human emotions in mind. This is something to remember whether you are talking to employees, corporate officers, or the public. Addressing risk is often not technical or data driven. We get it wrong when we think technology and data have all the answers. Logic and science are often not comforting. We can see this reality through the poor messaging related to COVID-19, which resulted in confusion and outrage. Emotions drive beliefs, which drive decision making. It is nearly impossible to form a well-informed decision when instincts can drive the decision-making process.

Risk is Judged Personally
Just saying the risk is low does not make it so in the mind of the person who sees you in control of a situation they have no control over. People have different perspectives and all risk is judged personally. To alleviate this sort of emotional response, it is important to:
– Tell the truth
– Build credibility and trust
– Pay attention to unvoiced concerns and underlying motives
– Remember everyone has biases
– Remember beliefs are more powerful than facts, and
– Put facts into context


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