empathy and safety culture

Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes. It is being able to try to feel what another person might feel. As a safety-minded leader, it means that you are willing to look at a safety situation through the eyes of the workers that you are leading.

  1. Is the person missing some element of understanding? Is it possible that training was lacking? Is there a language barrier that must be overcome? If it is a lack of understanding, what must I do as a leader to assure that the gap is bridged and understanding is complete? Should we do a follow-up training session? If language is an issue for employees, have I done everything in my power to help them feel comfortable with the policies, such as printing brochures, safety manuals, and check-offs in their language? Do I have a translator available if I do not speak their language? Was safety training conducted in their language? Thought: If I do not even provide safety in an understood language, what am I saying about the importance of the safety of these employees? Does that one thing make them feel like disposable or invisible people? What can I do to remedy this?
  2. If knowledge is not an issue, is there a physical barrier to follow through on a known rule? One needs to look at the work environment with new eyes. Is there something in the way of a tie off location? Do we need new equipment in order to make the job site secure? Would a taller ladder help, or a new tool? Do we need to rent lifts for this job?
  3. Is there some emotional reason which correlates to a failed safety procedure? Is the person in question working extended overtime to push a job to the finish line? Have they had any personal issues which may affect their ability to rest well, such as a sick child or spouse? Many of these issues linger with us after we arrive at work, whether we intend to or not. Distractions work into our day. A phone call from an upset child or spouse will ruin our focus for the afternoon. It only takes a moment to lose track of safety, and we are all human. As a leader, you must be aware of the issues surrounding your crews.
  4. Are my teams getting the support they need from me? If hours are mounting and pressure to finish is high, would my employees benefit from a few extra minutes on break, or a much-needed day off to rest? Would it be helpful to provide a warm area on cold days so that they can at least take a break in warmth? If it is hot, would an ice chest full of cold water be appreciated?

Empathy; another big piece of the puzzle we call safety culture. Give Complete Safety a call today if we have helped you identify gaps in YOUR program. We can help you bridge those gaps to keep your employees working in a safe and conducive environment.

Complete Safety is here to help you and your business. From any HSE compliance needs you might have to system design for your entire organization, we’re here to help you achieve your goals. We are located at 108 KOL Drive in Broussard, LA near Lafayette and can be reached at 337-330-2933 or on our website at: www.complete-safety.net.

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