Character and Workplace Safety

The Root Cause of Accidents On the Job

Injuries, whether on the job or not, are certainly a serious problem to the person injured.

Employee injuries on the job are a major problem for many businesses. Often they are more of a problem than the business owners realize.

There are several reasons for this.

  • Workplace injuries have a direct effect on the cost or worker’s compensation insurance. Every employee injury is factored into a formula the calculate a “mod factor” for an employer. The higher the “mod” the higher the insurance premium. The “mod” factor is based on employee injury experience for a three year period, so every claim can cause the premium to be higher for three years.

 

  • Replacing an employee is expensive. If an employee is injured seriously enough to have to miss work for an extended time, the employer has the problem, and expense, of replacing the employee. A lot of time and expense is involved in finding, interviewing, and training a new employee.

 

  • Workplace injuries have a negative affect on employee morale. People don’t like to work in places where they don’t feel safe.

 

  • Employee injuries lead to lower productivity. Think of the time other employees spend talking about what happened and why it happened. All of that time in unproductive time.

 

  • Injury to key employees can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction. When an employee who is important in the production process is injured, his work has to be done by someone else. Usually, the someone else is not as well qualified and may not do as good work. Quality may suffer. It may also take them longer, so a job may not be finished on time. Lower quality and timeliness can even lead to loss of customers.

 

  • There are other cost factors that often are not considered when calculating the total cost of an on-the-job injury. Costs like the time for filling out forms, time for someone to take the injured employee to the doctor, time spent in phone calls with the insurance company, etc. It has been estimated that the true cost of an accident can be as much as ten times the visible cost!

The bottom line is that it is vitally important to businesses to have viable safety programs to protect employees from on-the-job injuries.

And there’ the rub.

Many companies have safety programs that should be good, but for some reason employees still get hurt. They shouldn’t – and they wouldn’t if the safety program worked like it is supposed to work. But it doesn’t.

For example, the safety program says that the employees should wear protective eyewear. The employer provides safety glasses, but some of the employees don’t wear their safety glasses unless someone is watching.

Or, maybe, the safety program requires guards at the point of operation for machines that can be dangerous. However, sometimes the guards are removed when maintenance is done on the machine, and they just never get replaced – until someone gets hurt using the machine.

There are a thousand reasons why a “good” safety program may not be effective. And not always, but usually, when you get right down to the real underlying reason they are not effective, you will find that the problem is the people, not the program. Usually, it boils down to a problem of character!

What does that mean? Am I saying that the people are not “good” people so they get hurt?

No, what I mean is that you will usually find a combination of character qualities that would have to be strengthened for the safety program to really work effectively.

For example, workplace accidents are often attributed to “carelessness” on the part of the injured employee. Usually, “carelessness” is a word used to described things like “lack of alertness“, “lack of attentiveness“, “lack of patience“, etc., all of which are character qualities.

If you are an employer, and you really want your safety program to be effective, the best thing you can do is to work with your employees to strengthen the character qualities that lead to success (See How To Implement A Character Training Program).

For more information on how to strengthen character qualities and improve the effectiveness of your safety program, contact the author at

safety@character-training.com

For information about how to conduct an effective character training program, go to How to Implement a Character Training Program.

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