I often remind audiences more injuries occur off the job than at work. With all the focus we place on workplace safety, I think most people must not be aware of this fact. For many of my clients, their safety record is so good the safest part of their employees’ day begins when they go through the gate to work. There are several advantages of focusing on safety off the job.
First is consistency. If you want people to use hearing protection it is important to teach them the real reasons why they would want to use this personal protective equipment (PPE). When I sell people on the real benefits of using their PPE they are more likely to do so when no one is watching and when they are off the job.
If people are only doing a safe behavior because you are paying them and they are willing to comply with your rules, you haven’t given them enough reasons which benefit them.
One of the best reasons to use the same safety procedures and equipment at home is the workers’ children and loved ones learn to use the items also. If a child sees mom or dad using hearing protection when mowing the lawn it becomes natural to them. When working with tools, wearing gloves and safety glasses tell the people you love that safety is important to you. As much as we joke about kids, especially teenagers, not listening to their parents, your actions speak volumes and they will respond appropriately.
A second reason to focus on off the job safety is it sends the message you really care.
I have interviewed hundreds if not thousands of employees. I have discovered some employees believe their employer is only concerned with the dollar cost of an injury and not the real safety of the employee. I know at least for my clients this isn’t true. However, perception is everything. If employees believe this they act accordingly. When you talk about safety at home or before vacation season they get the message you really care. At one location I recently spoke at, at least one-third of my audience were wearing some form of hunting camouflage apparel. It would be outstanding to do a session on hunting safety before hunting season begins.
I don’t know of any company who has more workers than they need. Today’s workforce is lean and if someone doesn’t show up for work because they were injured off the job your productivity is impacted. The injured, off- the-job worker may not be able to ever return to their specific job because of injuries. You lose your investment in their training and experience. Turnover is never good.
On the darker side, some off-the-job injuries find their way into your workplace. I have heard stories of someone limping to work, then “twisting their ankle” on the job later that day. Instead of getting into an argument as to the legitimacy of the injury, why not just prevent it in the first place?
One of my earliest clients in California had a great idea. They had lockers of safety equipment which employees could check out to use at home. This way someone could use more expensive PPE when a special job at home called for it. Also, it made sure people didn’t borrow the same equipment off a truck so a crew wouldn’t have it the next day.