Keeping Your Safety Focus During Chaotic Times

Disaster Preparation/RecoveryProfessional Development/LeadershipProfessional Development/TrainingSafety

(This article originally ran in the September 2009 issue of OSP Magazine)

“Change is one thing, progress is another. “Change” is scientific; “progress” is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.” (Bertrand Russell)

When people are angry, it’s because they are scared. Now, that’s not a very macho thing to say, but it’s true. The basic emotion called fear has been given to us to protect and serve us; fear is the portal to the emotion of anger.

When you company is going through union negotiations, realize that anger is near the door of the organization. The same is true when companies go through mergers, acquisitions, or reorganizations. When you realize this, you can control your fear and consequently your anger — and safety — can remain in focus.

You may have heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Dr. Maslow recognized that we all have basic needs that must be met before higher order needs can be achieved. He identified safety as a basic human need. Believe it or not, having a safe environment is one of your basic requirements for maintaining a positive mental attitude at work.

During changing times it is important for an organization to communicate to the workforce that safety is still number one. However, it is every individual worker’s responsibility to focus on safety no matter how the company is handling communications. That’s the bottom lines. Do not leave the focus on safety to someone else.

Keeping a positive mental attitude and focusing on safety during chaotic times can be challenging but it is doable. Since you now know more about the change process and how it impacts us, you are up to the task!

No matter what your job is, you can be a champion for safety. More companies have eliminated safety events and don’t seem to be focused on communicating about safety as much as they are on profits and productivity. Profits and productivity are even the focus of the evening news. There’s lots of negative press about corporate America in the news. This attitude tends to flow into the workforce and takes the focus off of safety. Even amidst the focus on the downside, you can keep yourself motivated and encourage others to be focused on safety.

Here are some things you can do to champion safety during times of turbulence:

1. Keep your personal focus on safety.

2. Make it a point to follow prescribed safe work practices.

3. Continue to learn more about safety in your industry and keep your skills honed.

4. Get involved in the safety process by volunteering to conduct a safety meeting or sit on a safety committee.

5. Look at your family and assure yourself that they want you to come home every day without injury.

Keeping safety on the minds of everyone in the organization during changing times is difficult. It requires resources and commitment from everyone in the company. In changing times a safe work culture is important: OSHA requires it, management needs it, the workforce wants it, and families demand it — so do your best.

Let’s all work together in these changing times to put safety first on our minds so everyone can go home every day without injury.

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