Thought Leadership


People DO care about safety and the well-being of others

November 19, 2013
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hand protectionI prefer to be optimistic and humanistic, believing that the silent majority does care about the safety and health of others, and wants to do the right thing. 

Consider for example the large numbers of people reacting to tragedies from shootings in airports and educational settings to catastrophes from climate change. 

I would hope others also believe that people care about the health, safety, and wellbeing of others. I hope for an interdependent rather than an independent mindset, and we can help to make that happen.

It is my opinion, based on research, that publishing the injuries of particular companies (as OSHA recently proposed) will motivate companies to improve their safety records. 

Why?

Because companies are concerned with public opinion and public relations. Consider for example the repeated T.V. commercials regarding  BP’s commitment to safety. Why would they spend so much money on these promo ads if they did not believe the public cared

If the safety records of organizations became public, these organizations would be greatly concerned about public opinion and be motivated to do something about it. 

It’s too bad OSHA does not deem it important and feasible to make public those companies without injuries, and thus promote a positive message. 

I cannot agree with an opinion of an uncaring and uninterested public. Of course the public should be interested and care about a company’s injury records, since industry includes family members from the public. I would like to believe people are less self-serving and more caring than a number of opinions express. 

Will posting injury data confuse the public? It will be important to post the information so the public understands. How about a simple posting of the number of serious and lost-time injuries?  I cannot believe the public will not care about such statistics. 

Will this information be ignored by the public? Absolutely not, if the information is presented clearly. I would hope the media would pick up on this information and call on relevant professionals to discuss reasons for the injuries and interventions for improvement. It is all about media attention.  If the media shows interest, and they will because they like negative events, the public will be informed and their interest will increase. Perhaps this could help to hold companies accountable to work harder at the process of injury prevention. 

Regarding the belief that people are entirely self-serving, let me make three critical points: 1) As Skinner said, we are motivated by soon, certain, and positive consequences; 2) He also warned we are more motivated by consequences for ourselves than for others; 3) But the humanists have found that people are reinforced greatly when they go beyond self-serving consequences and serve others (e.g., servant leadership). The top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is not self-actualization, but is self-transcendence. People who reach that level understand and experience the reinforcing consequences of helping others. Our challenge is to help people get to that mindset, and then actively caring for people will be self-reinforcing and self-maintaining.

Tomorrow: Phil La Duke contends that people don't care about job safety.

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