Recently, I was asked an interesting question by a friend. How come we still have so many fatalities in the workplace? And why is it increasing? She was referring to the number of fatalities due to workplace Diseases or Accidents in Alberta at 129*, in Canada at 925**.
In Alberta, based on a report for the year 2019*, Out of 8,254 Injured workers in the Construction and trade sector, 12% were trade helps and workers, 9% were Carpenter, and 5% were heavy equipment operators. Mining and Petroleum on 1,669 16% Heavy equipment operator, 15 Drilling workers and 9% Transport truck driver.
The scary part of those stats is that, in reality, the numbers of injuries are higher. The workers, for an array of reasons, don’t report injuries.
My answer to her was that the issue is complex, and there is no one answer to fix it.
Here are some behaviours I have observed in my career that successfully reduced the number of incidents or the severity of this incident.
Behaviours that foster safe work habits:
Have an engaged Supervisor. Let them spend time with their Worker. A supervisor with the same training will be a better leader in the field. Saga Universal Training Health and Safety Training Canada can assist with this behaviour.
Frequent validation that the workers are following the rules. Give positive reinforcement. “What get check, get done.” “An employee that is appreciated wants to give their best.”
Reward the appropriate behaviour: rewarding just productivity will affect your safety performance and lower your productivity long term. Rewarding productivity and Safety will positively affect your H&S and productivity.
When a worker does not follow the rules, a supervisor should “Seek to understand and then to be understood.”
Have the right equipment available
Have the equipment in good working condition and maintained
Encourage open communication, keep an open mind
Teach the Art of a Fierce Conversation
Watch how much overtime your workers are doing – fatigue is the leading cause of the incidents.
Find out how your workers are doing. We are all dealing with the Pandemic and inflation, but some may have other issues that distract from the task.
Have an Employee Assistance Program. A supplement to this is a buddy system in the workplace or a good listener. They can make efficient interventions with a worker that is not at his best.
Foster workplace/homelife balance.
Encourage workers to do physical activities to stay in good mental and physical health
Hands-on engineering. An engineer can be a great asset to Health and Safety, and they have to be involved in the field to understand the operational needs of the equipment,
Replace or reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the workplace. It is better for the workers and the Environment.
Have fun at work, laugh.
I encourage you to share some of the habits you learned that have made a difference by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. By sharing our learnings, we can all make a difference.
A Thank you to the many people who taught me about those behaviours. You were a Safety Leader in your ways and made a difference in someone’s life.
*Stats from Alberta OHS and WCB Based on static from 2019
**2021 Report on Work Fatality – Sean Tucker, Ph.D. and Anya Keefe, MSc, University of Regina, Saskatchewan