For most companies, committing to safety in the workplace is more than an opportunity to take advantage of popular buzzwords. It’s a guiding path forward for an organization — one that not only keeps team members and those around them protected, but reduces liability risks. Unfortunately, even the best-run companies find themselves at risk of complacency that leads to unsafe workplace conditions.
While your line of work and the unique risks associated with it will vary from what other companies experience, one fact holds true across the board: It is essential to combat workplace safety complacency head-on. In this blog, BCH’s risk management professionals will explore the reasons complacency is so common in working environments, effective strategies for fostering a culture of vigilance and resources to help keep your company protected when it matters.
Why is Safety Complacency Such a Common Problem in Today’s Workforce?
Workplace safety complacency might be an issue today, but it isn’t necessarily a new one. Team members’ tendency to become lax on the job is often related to their overall work environment as opposed to generational trends in one direction or another.
Those who remain in the same line of work for an extended period of time, or whose work involves repetitive tasks, often begin to run on autopilot. This is true even for those in leadership positions, or who are adequately trained in safe operating procedures. That safety complacency can make itself known in a number of ways, including but not limited to the following:
- Rushing Through Tasks
- Skipping Important Safety Steps During a Task
- Engaging in Distracting Activities While Performing a Task
- Listening and/or Singing Along to Music
- Watching Television or Videos
- Becoming Distracted by Mobile Devices
- Responding to Phone Calls or Texts
- Taking Part in Attention-Stealing Conversations with Team Members
How Can You Foster a Company Culture Focused on Workplace Safety?
Successful workplace safety efforts don’t happen by chance. Rather, they require an active effort on the entire team’s behalf. Here are a few key steps you can take to establish a quality workplace safety culture and maintain those efforts moving forward.
- Keep Safety Top of Mind: The key to creating a successful safety culture and avoiding complacency concerns in your workplace is to establish safety as a top priority among employees. Be sure to keep safety top of mind within your organization by utilizing eye-catching workplace safety signage, requiring routine safety training, and holding regular staff meetings to discuss the importance of recognizing job hazards and taking proper precautions.
- Enforce Safety Policies and Procedures: Make sure you clearly communicate all workplace safety policies and procedures to staff. Further, ensure you follow through with proper consequences in the event that an employee fails to uphold such policies or procedures (e.g., having the employee complete additional training or work with a mentor).
- Refrain from Repetitive Routines: Employees who perform repetitive tasks are more likely to become complacent on the job. If possible, try to regularly rotate repetitive tasks between staff to help your employees maintain a sense of variety in their routines and reduce their risk of complacency.
- Implement an Observation Program: Behavior-based safety observations (BBSOs) allow employees to audit one another while they perform workplace tasks, looking out for potential safety concerns. Having your employees routinely participate in BBSOs will help them remedy poor workplace habits or behaviors, identify additional areas for improvement and become more comfortable voicing safety concerns with each other.
- Listen to Your Staff: Lastly, make sure you value your employees’ input on workplace safety. Always ask staff to share their ideas for potential safety improvements and take any feedback seriously. Also, ensure all employees know how to properly report and respond to workplace safety incidents — including near-misses.
On a related note, it’s important to remember that positive reinforcement can be a powerful thing. Many team members do their jobs well, taking all the right workplace safety precautions as they tackle the day’s tasks. When you spot an employee going above and beyond to create a safe culture, or even regularly adhering to your company’s safety edicts, acknowledge them for a job well done.
Consider rewarding safety-focused team members with incentives such as bonuses, extra time off or the opportunity to enter a drawing for other prizes. While you’re at it, communicate these “wins” to the rest of the team. Not only does it provide your high-performing employees with the recognition they deserve, but it encourages others to follow suit.
Remember, safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. By getting team members at every level involved, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the job, and safeguard your company against costly liability risks.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to encourage safety in the workplace, our Safety Complacency Quick Sheet is an excellent place to start. Download your copy and share it with your team to keep your operations’ risk management efforts on track. Of course, if you have questions pertaining to your particular work environment or your existing business insurance coverage, feel free to contact your BCH team. We’re always here to help, and we look forward to hearing from you.