Creating a Safety Culture at Work

Safety culture, a behavior-based concept developed by H.W. Heinrich in the 1930s and 1940s, was originally created so employers would have a way to observe and change unsafe worker behavior. Unfortunately, this placed all the blame for accidents directly on the employees. Today’s bosses realize that workers aren’t always to blame, and outside factors are taken into consideration. he modern safety culture is the end result of combined individual and group efforts toward values, attitudes, goals, and proficiency of an organization’s health and safety program. Below are some tips for creating an inclusive, healthy safety culture at your own workplace.

Create an official safety plan

  • The aim of your plan should be building safe habits and a healthy work environment.
  • Covered topics should include: safety policies, goals, and an overview of what “safety culture” means for your organization.
  • Responsibilities should be defined for workers at every level, from the CEO down.
  • Educate all employees about your safety plan. It is the #1 thing you can do to help get everyone on the same page.
  • Prepare for an increase in incidents up-front, especially if there was no official plan in place for reporting things in the past.

Create a culture of accountability

  • Identify changes that need to be made within the organization and assign responsibility to make those changes.
  • Hold managers and leaders responsible just as much as everyone else – this helps create a good example for the rest of the employees.
  • Provide multiple options for reporting incidents. Some employees will not be comfortable reporting an accident face-to-face. Other options should include submitting a written report, or filling out an online form.

Create good working relationships

  • Set clear expectations for employees at all levels.
  • Seek to understand problems, rather than assign blame.
  • Acknowledge a job well-done.
  • Make sure employees feel safe reporting incidents without fear of retribution.

Provide positive feedback

  • When employees feel like their efforts are noticed, it gives them a reason to go above and beyond.
  • Consider offering a small incentive for safe behavior, such as extra time off, or a company outing. Just be careful – it is easy to create an environment in which employees don’t report incidents in order to earn their reward. It all comes back to having that trusting relationship!
  • When an employee­­ is positively motivated, by reward, or just positive feedback, they will look for safety violations, report unsafe behavior, and suggest corrections more freely than they did before.

When you’re creating a safety culture at work, make sure everyone is aware of your plans and stays updated throughout the process. A team that is made part of plan development is a team that will fight to make it work.

Classic Mistakes People Make on Ladders

Each year, there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders. The problem? Most people don’t treat ladders with the appropriate amount of respect. Just like a chainsaw or a nail gun, a ladder has the potential to cause serious injury. Accidents can occur during even the most common, mundane tasks -cleaning gutters, putting up Christmas lights, or painting the house can turn dangerous in an instant. Below are some of the most common mistakes people make on ladders:

Using the ladder improperly

  • Your ladder should always be set on an even surface. Setting your ladder on gravel or loose ground could cause it to tip, and you to fall.
  • Make sure the spreaders (the littl­e bars between the legs of a stepladder) are locked. When not locked, the ladder can fold in on itself and collapse.
  • Set the ladder at the correct angle. An extension ladder should be set so it is sitting at a 75-degree angle from the ground.

Not choosing the correct ladder for the job

It might be easier to just buy one ladder and use it for all your tasks, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. Not all ladders are intended for all uses – for instance, a step ladder shouldn’t be leaned against a wall and an aluminum ladder shouldn’t be used for electrical work.

Not inspecting the ladder before each use.

Using a defective or broken ladder can lead to grave injury. Wooden ladders are especially prone to rot and decay, but all ladders can become damaged. Before use, check for cracks in rungs, loose bolts and hinges, and general wear and tear. In addition, check for cleanliness, as grease, mud, or other debris could cause you to slip and fall.

Not being careful

  • Maintain three points of contact on your ladder at all times. This could mean both feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot.
  • Don’t lean too far away from the ladder. If an object is out of your reach, climb down and pick it up, then climb back up.
  • Always face the correct direction. You should never turn around backwards on the ladder. Not only are you facing the wrong way, but it makes it nearly impossible to maintain your three points of contact.
  • Lift and carry your ladder in the appropriate way. If you need to, ask a friend or coworker to help. Many ladders are very heavy, and trying to carry them alone can result in a fall or a back injury.

If you avoid these mistakes and use caution, you will greatly minimize your risk of fall or injury when using a ladder.