Workplace injuries and incidents increase when a company lets little violations go.
Admit it. We sit back, shocked by illegal actions at large corporations which cause preventable injuries. But what about you? Have you ever violated a procedure, and then justified your action because “it’s necessary under the circumstances” or perhaps just because “it’s only just this once”?
When your immediate supervisor tells you to take a shortcut, despite legislated or company standards, is the supervisor wrong? Or are you wrong for complying with the supervisor’s orders?
What about small things, such as not wearing your seatbelt on a short trip?
That may seem petty, compared to violating the Lockout/Tagout procedure, but perhaps our actions, tallied together, can lead to a significant injury or incident.
Little infractions can lead to bigger violations – and so gradually we don’t realize how at-risk things have become. What does our little pushing of the envelope do to our organizations and to ourselves?
There are many fine lines to be drawn in safety, and many of those we cross every day. It’s difficult to figure out when stretching the rules is OK. And when it’s seems a little thing, should we even take notice?
I say we should.
Companies and employees are breaking rules all over the place. We all observe others violating legislated requirements or their organization’s standards. They aren’t always huge headline types of things; it is the small things that become common practice that create a culture of acceptance in the name of productivity or customer service.
In your mind it may seem a good reason to break the rule, but this is the time to discuss the situation with your supervisor or safety person. That way, your superiors and safety department know what you are facing and why, and they can address it.
Some violations aren’t so small, but the workers involved have a way of justifying the practice anyway. You have to be careful of rationalizations – the little shortcuts or deviations that gain credibility in our minds, could cost us our life.
When such situations arise, we can help clarify the issue by asking ourselves a few simple questions”
- Is this action in compliance with legislated and company requirements?
- Is it consistent with industry standards?
- How would you feel if you or your co-worker was injured?
- What would you do if your son or daughter had to perform the task?
John is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and a Certified Health and Safety Consultant (CHSC), workplace trainer, author, and owner of Wettstein Safety Strategies Inc.
With fifteen years experience as a tradesman and over thirty years as a health and safety professional, John’s fun, active training workshops are reinforced with humour and enthusiasm, inspiring employees to manage Risk (Safety) through conversations.
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