Originally posted on Caterpillar Safety Service’s Safety Culture WORLD blog http://safetycultureworld.blogspot.com/ and reposted here with Caterpillar’s permission.

It seems that workplace injuries are directly influenced by economic situations. As the price of raw materials increases, there is a natural tendency to take additional risks to produce more volume. As the end of the calendar quarter approaches, there is added pressure to meet goals or deadlines. As downtime increases, maintenance safe guards are compromised to get the line back up and running as soon as possible. 

As a company strives to meet economic demand, it becomes easy to focus on producing a higher volume of product at maximum efficiency.

When fast production and higher volume take priority, process and procedure shortcuts can occur, which compromise safe operation necessities. Employees tend to lower their personal risk tolerance, which inevitably leads to increased injury rates.

How can we, as an organization, create a culture of ‘doing it the right way’ versus ‘get it done’? What actions need to be taken to ensure that employee safety is a top priority?

This issue has affected our industry for generations, and we often don’t realize the profit message that we are sending to employees. If risk is being promoted to meet economic demands, then decreased personal risk tolerance is being encouraged.

When an individual lowers their personal risk tolerance, the probability of injury increases.

Think about it from an analytical viewpoint – is the payoff for taking these risks worth the possibility of personal trauma and costs associated with injury or damage? 

When thinking about it from this perspective, safety first becomes beneficial for all parties involved. Take a moment to evaluate your organization. What type of profit message are you sending to your employees?