North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week is an annual, continent-wide Occupational Health and Safety event which involves employers, workers, and OHS professionals to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. The topic of 2014′s NAOSH Week (May 4 to 10) is “Make Safety a Habit“. Safety Solutions at Work would like to dedicate the April newsletter to creating safe and healthy habits among your workers.
The nineteenth century author Thomas Carlyle wrote: “Habit is the deepest law of human nature”. We all have formed habits in our lives, some of which are good while some of which are bad. It is through developing good habits that we accomplish our success. Let’s examine some of the things that we can do in helping forming our “safety habits”.
1. Pick the safe behaviour
One example of such positive behaviour would be developing the good habit of wearing personal protection equipment (safety goggles, high-visible vest, respirators, earplugs, etc) when required. Another good example would be tying up a ladder when setting it up to get access to the roof, preventing it from slipping. Making positive behaviour a habit will significantly change the long-term negative outcome.
2. Remind yourself until safe behaviour becomes a habit
There are several strategies to remind yourself to keep up safe behaviour until it forms a habit. Regarding the previous example of wearing PPE, my work partner and I always do a mutual check with each other before either of us enter into the high hazardous area. Another strategy I use to remind myself to bring PPE to worksite is to place them close to your lunch box: Eating lunch is the habit I developed and fortified for the past 27 years, so should be wearing PPE. Also, you can use calendars or notes to remind yourself to acquire the new behaviour.
3. Set benchmarks
The goal of setting up the benchmark is to measure your progress. You will know when you review your behaviour if it’s working or not. If you’ve been successful, move to the next step; if not, move to the next step!
4. Correct or celebrate
Through measurement and reflection we’re going to know by our own evidence what is working and what isn’t. If you’re being successful, then celebrating is a good idea. Congratulate yourself for your accomplishment. Feel empowered by your ability to change your habits into positive actions. If success hasn’t been realized yet, you need to revisit the plan and strategies and figure out what didn’t go well. Was it the plan itself or perhaps the fact that you didn’t execute the plan as you imagined it? There is no substitute for a good plan in achieving success.
As we know, the purpose of all safety efforts is to prevent accidents and injuries to human beings. As human beings, we all have the inclination to choose the easy method of doing something, or the fastest way to do it, without regard to safety. By developing safety habits, we gradually form safe work habits that carry through into our daily work, and combat the lazy inertia of bad habits. This discipline is one of the best safety devices available.