Safety: The 5% Solution?

March 18, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Dear Subscriber,

Here's a thought: Are your safety rules and policies, discipline and training, meeting agendas and walkarounds, investigations and bulletin board material — mostly aimed at the five percent of your workers who are "allergic" to safety?

Maybe you're wasting energy and missing the mark with too much of your time spent dealing with violators, repeaters and resisters.

Critics charge OSHA with doing just that. Too much time and too many tax dollars spent threatening, investigating and negotiating with the very small minority of six million U.S. workplaces that don't care about safety.

In this issue of ISHN's E-zine, we take research from a new book, "The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit By Giving Workers What They Want," (Wharton School Publishing, 2005) and raise questions about how safety and health is practiced in the workplace.

THE DULLING EFFECT

So who says only five percent of workers are seriously safety-impaired? Is the number larger, or smaller, in your workplace?

Look at it this way: only five percent of the work population shows up for a new job "allergic to work," says David Sirota, one of the book's authors, along with Louis Mischkind and Michael Irwin Meltzer.

The five percenters don't get what work (or by extension, safety) is about and don't want to learn. They resist. They show up late, leave early, and wander around wasting lots of time. They don't pay attention, they get hurt, others get hurt, and equipment and property is damaged. They never should have been hired in the first place, Sirota says.

So they're managed like a problem child, watched like a hawk and hit with rules and threats of dismissal.

But here's what happens, according to Sirota: In many organizations the behavior of this small group (maybe one in twenty workers) is generalized to just about every worker. So rule books become tomes, warnings are posted, training classes treat employees like children, meetings go on and on about issues irrelevant to most workers, and supervisors always look over shoulders.

And in the eyes of too many employees, safety programs come off as oppressive and wasteful.

That's because about 95 percent of employees begin a new job excited about their work and their organization (and safety, too, by extension), according to Sirota. They're eager to be part of a productive team of co-workers. But after the honeymoon ends — usually about six months into the job — morale (and safety interest, too, by extension) begins to sag in about nine out of ten companies, according to Sirota's research.

Have you seen safety attitudes follow this arc — high initial interest followed by a gradual fade out? Is it because management practices focus too much on problems and not enough on performers? Suggestions go unanswered? Hazards aren't fixed? Meetings meander on and on? Sirota bases his claims on three decades of studying the attitudes of people at work — about 2.5 million have been surveyed by his consulting company since 1994 alone.

SAFETY'S LONG REACH

Safety's scope of course should represent much more than a five-percent solution.

Research from "The Enthusiastic Employee" shows how safety work can influence many of the organizational issues that motivate employees. Eighty-five to 90 percent of workers are turned on by just three basic needs, is the premise of "The Enthusiastic Employee." Based on all those surveys, what workers want is universal and timeless, according to the authors:

1) Equity — Workers feel entitled to a safe work environment, reasonable pay and job security, and to be treated with respect.

Safety and health play a large role in delivering the kind of fair and just treatment employees seek from work. As the authors write, where loss of limb or life is at stake, the ultimate is expected, the goal is perfection, zero injuries.

And in terms of respect, not taking care of the physical work environment is a sure sign of disrespect, according to the authors. Employees want conditions fit for a human. Not dirty, congested, poorly lit and poorly ventilated.

2) Achievement — Workers want to be recognized for their performance. They want feedback on how they're doing. Plenty of opportunities here for safety pros and safety initiatives to contribute positively.

3) Camaraderie — Let's not forget we're social animals, the authors remind us. We feel a need to belong and identify — and not just with our families, communities, schools and sports teams. Workers want to have warm, interesting and cooperative relations with others in the workplace, according to the book.

Safety of course, through observation and feedback loops, and team-based planning, goal-setting, auditing, problem-solving and training offers many opportunities to develop close-knit, caring relations.

SITTING IN A SILO?

Check your safety and health initiatives and competencies against these three fundamental employee "wants." If your response generally is — "No, safety doesn't play a role here; we don't do this here" — safety probably sits within its own silo in your organization.

If you see yourself and your programs active in these areas, you've gone way beyond tending to the "five percenters." You're making safety a key contributor to morale and business performance.

But be careful. Some traditional safety staples turn up on the authors' list of things that really don't motivate employees — and can be downright discouraging if handled poorly or over-emphasized. These include picnics, banquets and barbecues, suggestion programs, "formal" programs of all sorts, company newsletters, and pep rallies. As the authors write, it's not that employees don't care about these "frills," but they matter far less than meeting those three basic needs.

Dave Johnson is the ISHN E-News editor. He can be reached at djsafe@bellatlantic.net, (610) 666-0261; fax (610) 666-1906.

3E Company — Trusted Global Provider of Chemical, Regulatory and Compliance Information Services

Manufacturers with decentralized operations are looking for ways to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies; implement process improvements; and reallocate internal resources.

3E Company’s Ariel Manufacturer Services are the key:

  • Ariel MSDS Authoring – provides regulatory information in accordance with OSHA’s HazCom Standard, WHMIS Regulations, EU Directives, Country and State requirements.
  • Ariel MSDS Hosting– hosts, maintains and provides access to MSDSs online 24-7-365 via a manufacturer-specific web site hosted by 3E.
  • Ariel MSDS eLink– access to MSDSs 24-7-365 via the manufacturer’s website.
  • Ariel MSDS Push– ensures your MSDSs are sent, via email, fax or mail, to your customers as required.
  • Ariel Manufacturer Emergency Response – publishes 3E’s 800 number as the 24-7 emergency contact on your MSDSs.
Click here http://www.3ecompany.com/EmailPromo/promowp.asp?trkcde=MfgSvs-P-31005-ISHN or call 800.346.6737 to register for a free hour consultation on 3E’s Ariel Manufacturer Services.

mini-G gas detector—confined space safety—free White Paper

Protect yourself from the hazards of toxic and combustible gases with the new mini-G Portable Gas Detector from General Monitors. The mini-G is a one to four gas detector that runs 30+ hours on a single charge to let you work safer and longer on tough maintenance jobs. Its bright blue LCD screen makes it easy to operate and to see. Visit us at www.gmiportables.com to get a free Confined Space Safety White Paper Presentation, take our mini-G 3D Demo Test Spin and enter to win an Apple iPod.

For Free Confined Space White Paper visit: http://www.gmiportables.com/downloads/freestuff/space_hazards.ppt

MSDS MANAGEMENT JUST GOT EASIER

MSDSonline… solutions for all your MSDS compliance needs

Over 2 Million MSDSs: Our MSDSadvantage Web/software service delivers 24/7 access to the leading online MSDS database. Click here for a RISK FREE 30-day trial.

Simple Right-to-Know Access: Turn every desktop in your company into a Right-to-Know workstation. Our enhanced binderVIEW product is the most cost-effective MSDS deployment solution available. Click here for more information.

On-Demand MSDSs: our 24/7 MSDS fax-back service is an ideal solution when you have limited access to the Internet or have employees in remote locations. Click here for more information.

Much more… visit www.MSDSonline.com or call 1.888.362.2007.

PELTOR® NEXT™ Introduces Three New Hearing Protection Products

Peltor Next introduces three new products that give young workers even more hearing protection options. Tattoo™ Plugs, TriBand™ Plugs and Blaze Earmuffs combine contemporary styling, incredible comfort and unique design to make it easier for safety directors to get the compliance they demand from young workers who want "What’s NEXT."

The new Tattoo Plug offers users the ultimate protection with a NRR of 32dB. The eye-shocking neon green color and cutting-edge "barbed wire" graphics are sure to leave a lasting impression. An ultra-soft foam formulation and tapered shape provide all day comfort. Available uncorded or with the LiveWireâ„¢ cord.

Peltor NEXT’s first PVC earplug, the TriBand Plug, puts fun into function. The three color bands on the plug provide for easy compliance sighting and its proven cylindrical shape offer an NRR of 30dB. Available with or without a cord.

The new Blaze Earmuff features orange tie-dyed design earcups, soft seal liquid/foam filled cushions for comfort and padded, folding headband with four point suspension for optimum fit. The lightweight, high protection design yields a NRR of 26 dB.

For more information contact Customer Service at 800-225-9038 or visit us on the web at www.peltornext.com

Haws Model 7501 Portable Eyewash

The Haws Model 7501 portable eyewash offers superb Haws quality for remote locations at a value price! The ANSI Z358.1-2004 compliant Model 7501 features a gravity-fed design, with a fold-down eyewash arm that activates the flow automatically. Its compact 9 gallon tank and high efficiency irrigation heads provide a full 15 minutes of flushing time at 0.4 gallons per minute. The patent pending Model 7501 package includes a wall mounting bracket and an 8 oz. bottle of anti-bacterial additive to permit water storage for up to 6 months.

See the complete product line at www.hawsco.com/nv

Books from ASSE

You can order these titles and more from the American Society of Safety Engineers Bookstore on ISHN's Web site. Visit — http://www.ishn.com/FILES/HTML/ISHN_ASSE_index/

Among the books you'll find:

  • "Refresher Guide for the Safety Fundamentals Exam"
  • "The Participation Factor," by Dr. E. Scott Geller
  • "Safety Training That Delivers"
  • "Building a Better Safety and Health Committee"
  • "Safety Management - A Human Approach," and "Techniques of Safety Management - A Systems Approach," both by Dan Petersen.


MARKET RESEARCH

ISHN offers exclusive market research survey reports including White Papers, Online Training Editorial Study, Web-based Training Study, Salary Study, Hygiene Instrument Study, PPE Study, and more... CLICK HERE http://www.ishn.com/FILES/HTML/ISHN_market_research_index/0,5680,,00.html to learn more about these studies.

DIRECT MAIL

Look to ISHN's 73,000+ subscribers for your next direct mail campaign. For customized lists, call toll free: 1-800 323-4958; Fax: 1-630-288-8390; E-Mail: directmarketing@dm2lists.com; Web: www.dm2lists.com

WE NEED YOU!

Are you a safety and health pro or a manufacturer or provider of occupational safety and health products or services who enjoys writing?

Shakespeare need not apply, but ISHN is looking for authors to publish short articles (1,000 words) in our monthly issues.

Topics include: safety success stories, close calls and personal experiences, training tips, use of software, engineering controls (machine guards, lockout-tagout), gas detection and air monitoring, confined space safety, personal protective equipment, and OSHA compliance issues.

If any of these topics interest you — or if you have other ideas — e-mail editor Dave Johnson at djsafe@bellatlantic.net

We will also consider articles you’ve already written but not submitted to any safety magazine.

Thanks.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

6/26/14 2:00 pm EDT

Realizing ROI from Your Gas Detection Program

This presentation will cover why a safe workplace equates to good business, why keeping workers truly safe from hazardous gases requires a complete gas detection program, and how your investment can ensure an ROI to your overall business.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN0714_cover.jpg

2014 July

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out the top training companies and find out who the winners of the ISHN/ASSE Safety 2014 awards are.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - May 2014

ISHN0514FDO_cover.jpgFor Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THEMAY 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.