December Safety Blog: The effect of attitude on safety

Submitted by David Kaiser, former Director of Risk Management Services, Contractors Insurance Services Inc.

Many employers believe that OR-OSHA is a bureaucratic police force causing them to spend money on needless programs and devices. It is clear, however, that unsafe work conditions have been reduced and there has been a reduction in injuries to employees. Placing the focus on unsafe conditions in the workplace, without equal focus on unsafe work practices. Seems like a drain on profits.

It should be noted that 80-90 percent of all accidents occur because people make mistakes. This, coupled with an unsafe work environment, can lead to catastrophic loss, needless suffering and expense to employers. Employers must adopt a safety attitude, which permeates the entire workplace, and all work practices rather than merely being concerned with compliance.


The first step to an adequate accident prevention program begins with the boss. Management must adopt a safe workplace attitude by insisting that all work activities be done in a safe manner. This mindset must be passed on to all employees via supervisors or mid-level management where appropriate, or directly from the owner of the company to each of the employees. It must start to occur prior to the hiring process and must exist in every work practice, every day.


Good hiring practices are an integral part of your overall safety program. Successful managers surround themselves with good people who do the work that makes money for their business. They choose people who are suited for the job in skills, judgment, experience, learning ability and motivation.

The greatest failing in the hiring process is not understanding what a good candidate should possess in job-related skills. How do you combat this? By writing a description of the job. Ask the expert—the person in the job who does it well. What do they do? What skills are important? How much training can he or she provide for a new person? Can a new person work without close supervision? What are the physical requirements of the job? Then list your expectations. Do you require employees to travel? Is overtime a responsibility of the job? Will the job develop into more responsibility in the future? Are there job changes in the future? State the specific tasks or projects and the salary. List The indicators of qualification such as: 1. Direct experience in the same type of job. 2. Skills and experience that are transferable from another industry or type of employment. 3. Type and depth of education. 4. Previous level of authority.

Then you must recruit the best person for the job by using an appropriate and legal job application, conducting an interview (being careful not to ask illegal questions), conducting background checks, requiring a physical exam and, if appropriate in your operation, drug testing for all candidates. Once the “best person” has been found and hired the next step is to insure proper training in performance expectations, including safety. The company’s safety policies and goals should always be made clear to the new person.

It’s absolutely imperative that top management adopt a no compromise attitude about safety. If the job can’t be done in the safest possible manner it should not be done. If this important aspect of the total safety management program is overlooked, then it falls to the individuals of the organization to carry the weight of your safety program. Experience tells us this doesn’t work. If the boss doesn’t support safety 100 percent, live by it and practice it every day, then it’s not realistic to expect employees to work in a safe manner.

Providing safe workplaces and guidelines for safe work practices, hiring and training the right person for the job and demanding the highest safety standards are au important elements for ensuring jobsite safety. It’s all in your attitude.

Council Manager note:  Saw this article in the DJC “Work-related accidents tend to peak in January, so the safety agency recommends making preparations now”.  Thought it might be of interest.


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