I have worked for years in the field of insurance loss control. Loss control is basically just another way of saying “safety.” I have met with hundreds of business owners and managers regarding their employee safety programs. One of the main things I have learned through all of that experience of evaluating why people get hurt on the job, and how to keep them from getting hurt, is that you can usually trace on-the-job injuries to some lack or weakness of personal character. Not necessarily that there was a lack or weakness of character in the person who was injured – it very often is in someone else. But, someone, somewhere along the line, somewhere in the chain of responsibility, failed to demonstrate some aspect of good character.
For example, an employee may have been injured because the guard mechanism had been removed so that maintenance work could be done on the machine, and then the person who did the maintenance did not demonstrate thoroughness by replacing the guard. In another example, someone could slip and fall because there was water, or grease, or food, on the floor. The person who spilled it should have cleaned up the spill immediately, or at least warned others of the danger, but they did not demonstrate responsibility.
There are many, many, such examples happening every day in the work world. The solution to the problem is not more rules. Even stricter enforcement of the rules is not enough. What is needed is better character – improved character traits such as alertness, attentiveness, thoroughness, responsibility – in the people in the workplace.
I read an very good article today in Occupational Safety & Health magazine about the need for training employees to be personally responsible. You can see the article at http://ohsonline.1105cms01.com/blogs/the-ohs-wire/2012/05/self-responsibility.aspx .