Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, April 9, 2020

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Your warehouse probably spends time and money on improving workplace safety. But safe a warehouse requires more than safe equipment and a safety management system. Some workers compromise safety for everyone with their poor attitudes and safety misconceptions.

How do you recognize and change poor safety attitudes? Think about the psychology behind the behavior. Workers often make unsafe decisions because they have never been hurt while doing their job in an unsafe way. Complacency sets in and leads to poor decisions when it comes to safety protocol.

Herbert William Heinrich’s book, “Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach,” contends that 88 percent of accidents are caused by unsafe behaviors. Heinrich’s accident triangle theory suggests that for every 330 unsafe acts, 29 will result in minor injuries and 1 in a major or lost-time incident.

Why the poor attitude?

Unsafe behavior typically happens because workers become careless, complacent or fail to take safety seriously. Operators and employees on the warehouse floor should remember safety-first protocol. But it is easy for people to believe that nothing bad will happen. They don’t consider the real risk involved.

Workers are also balancing productivity demands with safety. When time is limited and demands are high, safety often is seen as less important.

Monitoring and proactive management is key to recognizing these poor attitudes and behaviors and addressing them.

Here’s how:

  • Stress and pressure can lead to poor choices and mistakes. Identify safety infractions occurring when workers are under pressure to produce more.
  • Eyes should look beyond productivity results and recognize when priorities become skewed and safety initiatives are regularly ignored.
  • Telematic monitoring identifies the “what, when and why” of safety infractions and can bring violations to your attention, like sounding an alarm when the speed of a forklift exceeds the pre-set speed limit.  
  • Implement short rest periods for operators under high production stress or that have been completing strenuous tasks. 

Safety as a group effort

Team members should be encouraged to look out for their coworkers and anything that compromises safety.

  • Explain what to look out for. It is necessary to equip employees with the tools to expand their scope of working objectives to include “eyes for hazards and waste.”  
  • Everyone should feel safe in reporting and discussing safety concerns.

The psychology of behavior

Positive and negative influences can change poor attitudes. If your team believes that thinking and behaving safely is best for all concerned, then they will probably send negative social cues toward anyone who deviates from safe behavior. Since most people want to be accepted within their workgroup, they typically revert to safe behavior to comply.

Safety is an ongoing challenge. Accidents happen when workers exhibit poor attitudes about safety and demonstrate risky behavior. Using advanced telematics to monitor human behavior, skills, and attitudes about safety protocol can help predict and prevent accidents.

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