Behaving Safely

20 March 2008

Creating a safety culture requires accountability, top management support, policies and procedures, investigations, training, record keeping, audits, recognition, education, motivation and the ability to identify safe and unsafe behavior.

As we recognize and investigate unsafe behavior, the underlying cause of accidents become apparent. When we understand the root causes of accidents, we are given the information needed to eliminate those causes and change behavior.

There are three basic elements to safe behavior: knowledge, skill and attitude.

There needs to be a balance between each element. If your employee is lacking in knowledge, skill or attitude you create an unbalanced safety behavior in the work place. FOR EXAMPLE:Â A crane operator needs the following to be in balance to operate safely: Knowledge - the understanding of how to operate the crane properly.

Skill - the ability to operate the crane properly.

Attitude - the desire to operate it properly. Â As managers and supervisors you have a direct effect on these as follows: Knowledge - by providing education and training for the operator.

Skill - by providing the employee the opportunity to acquire this skill set. Attitude - by motivating employees with recognition, communication and tangible rewards.

The basic elements of safety behavior include supervisors and management inspiring employees through personal example, good management practices and a sense of moral responsibility.

Your company should provide all employees with training programs, training manuals, practice of work steps, policies and procedures, hands-on demonstrations, workers behavior, positive reinforcement, communication, rewards and recognition.

leadership behavior

• Setting an example for safety behavior

• Identifying and correcting unsafe behavior

• Listening and communicating with workers

• A positive attitude

• Coaching and inspiring a team effort

• Enforcing safe operations and job procedures

• Participating in safety activities

• Positive recognition

• A commitment to a safe working environment

good management practices

• Accountability

• Planning

• Training

• Moral responsibility

• Communication

• Recognition

• Education/motivation

• Discipline

encouraging safe work

Good leadership and motivation techniques can reduce unsafe behavior. Some 85 to 90 percent of all accidents are behavior related. The relationship between the supervisor and the employee will change from a policeman to a coach, which is viewed as a helpful resource. Job satisfaction, improved morale, reduced accidents, return customers and a positive impact on your company's bottom line will follow. Make a plan by listing what supervisor and management can do to motivate safe working behavior. Some examples you may have already thought of include:

What encourages safe work?



Safety meetings

Maintained equipment

Positive reinforcement

Setting a good example


Good attitude

What discourages safe work?


Equipment improperly repaired

No recognition

Bad attitude

Unqualifi ed supervision

Poor planning

No training

Low wages

Make a Training Plan

Management must determine training needs and establish a time table.

Consider the employees you have, and then identify skills and knowledge that can be improved upon: job tasks, equipment operation, process, safety requirements and leadership skills.

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