I’m running behind schedule. Nothing bad will happen to me. I won’t be up there long. Everybody does it this way.
Thoughts like these might run through a worker’s head before he or she decides to take a safety shortcut. No matter the rationalization for the behavior, not following proper procedures can have disastrous results – hence the phrase, “shortcuts can cut life short.” Mistakes could include climbing too high on a ladder and losing your balance or not wearing protective equipment when working with dangerous chemicals.
Even workers who have been on the job long enough to know better may cut corners as well. But why?
“Most of the time, the shortcut is because somebody has the perception that they’re in a hurry for something,” said Timothy C. Healey, director of safety at the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. in Hartford, Connecticut. “What’s interesting to me is what’s driving them to feel that they need to be in a hurry.”
Healey offered several possible explanations: a personal priority on working fast; job insecurity; the proverbial “time is money” attitude; too few workers to complete the task; or changes in the organization or job roles. Whatever the reason, when the need to work fast outranks the need to work safe, mishaps can occur.
Other things to consider:
- point out the potential negative consequences when taking shortcuts that can help to discourage workers from skipping steps
- try to design each job task so that the safest way is also the easiest way
- RS SafetyTV and Library have information on this topic for your safety meetings.
WR employs Rick Means as Director of Safety & Education who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x118, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources include the National Safety Council Safety + Health Magazine