Safety 2013: Four Clues Your Safety Culture Is Out of Balance

When Rodney E. Grieve and his family set out to go horseback riding during a vacation in Spain, he had no idea that his horse would teach him an important lesson about workplace safety culture.

It all started when Grieve, a founding partner of Branta Worldwide Inc., remained complacent even after his horse bucked and reared early in the day. Because he was not injured and was able to carry on with a pleasant ride, he decided everything was fine. But everything wasn’t fine when his horse later bolted, setting off a chain reaction that not only landed Grieve in the dust but also caused his nine-year-old daughter to fall of her own horse and suffer a concussion.

“How did I put my family in this situation?” Grieve asked Safety 2013 attendees. “I realized that I had accepted that day a ‘be safe’ mentality – as long as nobody got hurt [when the horse initially bucked and reared], it’s OK.”

If Grieve had instead cultivated a “be successful” mentality, he would not have proceeded on that particular horse and may have saved his family some trauma. Similarly, in the workplace, focusing only on lowering OSHA recordables is equivalent to the “be safe” mentality – as long as no one gets hurt right now, it’s OK. But “right now” doesn’t secure a safe culture that ensures everyone is safe in the future.

According to Grieve, four elements must be balanced in a safe workplace culture: experience, technical knowledge, focus and pace. If you tip out of balance in any of these areas, your workers might be at risk.

Here are four clues that suggest you’re falling out of balance and creating a cultural hazard:

Safety 2013: Four Clues Your Safety Culture Is Out of Balance
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