Occupational accidents: psychological causes and solutions
Despite safety campaigns and increased safety awareness in the workplace, occupational accidents still happen every day. With employees fully aware of the risks and safety requirements, what can you, as an employer, do to better prevent workplace accidents?
While most workplace accidents are only minor, the number of serious incidents on the workfloor is still too high. Fractures caused by falling are the most common type of injury in all industries.
In addition to the prevention measures in place, the attitude of employees towards safety and incident prevention also plays a crucial role in preventing workplace accidents. And, as an employer, you can help change their attitude in more ways than you think.
Complacency and pushing boundaries
Every job comes with a different set of risks. However, the real danger lies in employees becoming complacent about workplace hazards. After some time, workers performing repetitive (unsafe) tasks may become less alert.
While employees are usually very aware of work-related risks, their sense of complacency may cause them to push their boundaries and expose themselves to even bigger risks.
Work pressure leads to increased risk of occupational accidents
Another factor that often causes employees to push their boundaries is rooted in the organisation and its economic objectives. Employees want to perform at their very best. The resulting pressure may cause some of them to take risks they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, they may decide to get started with a task before the necessary precautions are put in place.
As an employer, it is best to focus on work methods that benefit not only your corporate objectives but also the health and safety of your workforce. Achieving goals and objectives is great, but never at the detriment of your workers’ safety and well-being.
Be very clear about this when communicating with your workers. Show understanding when they have to postpone certain tasks. This will help remove some of the underlying causes of occupational accidents.
Change in behaviour
To tackle the problem head on and to establish an effective policy on workplace safety, it is important that employees are encouraged to change their safety behaviour. You can do this by promoting safety among your workers, communicating openly, providing the necessary safety equipment, making safety information easily accessible, etc.
This will help prevent workers from pushing the boundaries and taking unnecessary risks due to complacency or work pressure. Even better, your employees will be encouraged to actively contribute to a safer workplace. You will be giving a clear signal that safety always comes first, and your workers will be more inclined to discuss and report unsafe situations.
With special thanks to Jan Van den Brande, prevention advisor at Mensura.