Another word that we hear often is VALUE. What does it mean?" Can values can be defined as looking at the underlying beliefs and/or philosophies of individuals (at-risk events) and/or organizations (management support/employee participation). When we talk about ways to change or create a proactive safety culture, we need to recognize and understand the full impact that values have on an organization.
If you were to view the word values from a human side of the equation, you will find that employees bring their own set of personal beliefs and judgment to an organization. This forms the foundation of unique personal characteristics and is sometimes difficult to change. Because we as humans are shaped and influenced early in life by our parents and our social environment. Most people are a function of their social society, scripted by opinions, perceptions, and the paradigms of other people that they associate with.
How about norms? Do values become norms? Is this how we operate a business? Some professionals have described Norms as unwritten rules, beliefs, attitudes, and/or practices that demonstrate proper or improper action. Norms can become expressions of personal and organizational values. Many professional will say that norms can be accomplished through observable behaviors of employees. I am sure that everyone reading this article can remember when a member of management knowingly permits an employee to operate equipment without proper guarding or wearing the personal protective equipment. Probably because the manager did not have the time to say anything to the employee or it would have slowed down production. In these unspoken words, this is known as: Production is #1 and safety is not important. The norm is to take chances if the objective is to speed up production.
A manager sees a fork truck driving too fast for conditions and does not do anything. However, employees are being praised or rewarded for production results, without any consideration given to how they achieved the results. Their risk-taking may have put themselves and others at risk. In this case, risk-taking behaviors have become the unwritten rules (the norm) of getting the job done fast. If management allows this to happen, a message is sent to employees that doing something at-risk is okay. What do you think has just happened? The manager just nonverbally said that violating a safety rule is okay, particularly when the employee is rewarded for completing the task in record time. Given this situation, this at-risk practice will continue. Stephen Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
James Roughton is an experienced Safety Professional and mentor to other Safety professionals on the aspects of safety. He has the following certifications, MS, CSP, CRSP, CHMM, CET, CIT, and Certified 6 Sigma Black Belt. In addition, I am an independent thinker and innovator who have varied interests. He is a Safety Professional my trade, but has broken out of the mold of safety by reaching out to others outside of the profession and sharing his other interests of developing websites, social networking, and learning about what is FREE on the internet. If you would like to learn more about safety elements and others areas of interest, please visit my web sites.