Self-improvement professionals - from weight-loss experts to exercise gurus to motivational speakers - will tell you that attitude is everything. To make any type of positive change in your life, the change must first begin in your own mind. Unfortunately, an unsafe attitude toward workplace practices can have just as much influence on a person's behavior as a positive attitude - except for the worse. A potentially dangerous disregard for safety could lead to a serious workplace accident.
Below are listed six phrases, each reflecting an unsafe attitude that could lead to workplace woes. "Whenever you hear one of these phrases or something similar on the job, you should pay close attention to the situation at hand," said Benjamin Mangan, president and founder of MANCOMM and American Safety Training, Inc. These two companies work together to develop and provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance products and safety training. "You may be able to stop an accident before it has happened."
1. "We don't have time." Investing time in safety training ultimately saves far more time than it loses for companies. Work time is lost whenever an injury or illness occurs, and that employee's expertise is removed from the workplace. If an employee dies because of a workplace accident or illness, surely that is the most tragic loss of all. There's always time to train to work safely.
2. "I know a shortcut."
People sometimes take shortcuts on the job because they are banking on the fact that nothing bad will happen. But these short-cuts can lead to complex problems. "Shortcuts can often lead to disaster," said Mr. Mangan.
For example, a worker may decide to use too short a ladder to reach the roof of a building because he doesn't want to find and transport a longer one. A ladder should extend three feet beyond the top of a building, so a worker can step off the ladder onto the roof. If the worker uses one that's too short and has to climb up onto the roof, he could experience a nasty fall. On the 2005 list of OSHA's ten most commonly violated regulations, 'Ladders' was entry No. 10, so one's choice in ladders can be a crucial decision."
3. "I think this is the right way to do it..."
"In our safety training classes," Mr. Mangan said, "we encourage safety professionals from a wide variety of industries to look up regulations whenever they are in doubt about a safety matter. Guessing or believing hearsay is always unwise."
To further encourage safety professionals to look up information, Mancomm developed a graphical, colorful approach called RegLogic®, which they use in the books of government regulations they publish. Usually, regulations from the government printing office are published in black-and-white text blocks, and it can take hours to weeks to find needed information. With books enhanced with RegLogic®, the fact-finding time is cut considerably.
4. "Regulations don't change that often."
In truth, government regulations change on a fairly regular basis. "Today's world is constantly changing, and each day brings new advances in technology. These changes are reflected in the regulations," said Mr. Mangan. "That's why we print revised editions and offer update services for our regulation books." Regulations should be considered as works constantly in progress, and it is up to employers to stay updated on the rules that affect their companies.
5. "We'll fix it later."
No employee should be allowed to work with damaged equipment, whether it is a ladder, a forklift, or even a hammer. A broken part can fly off and injure someone - and in the case of a vehicle, the machine may malfunction or even tip over. Defective items need to be taken out of commission immediately.
6. "It's not in the budget."
Some people may think regular safety training is an expense that can be delayed or avoided altogether. But if an employee is injured or killed in an accident, the resulting medical expenses and possible OSHA fines would add up to an expense far greater than the cost of training. Safety instruction is always a worthwhile investment.
Ultimately, safety training leads to greater safety awareness and fewer work-related illnesses and accidents, which in turn means lower insurance costs and medical expenditures, as well as happier employees. Also, a decrease in accident-related downtime results in an increase in productivity.
"Some regulations may seem inconvenient or difficult to follow," Mr. Mangan said, "but many were created because at some point, a worker experienced an injury that could have been prevented."