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The Psychology of Safety

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1 The Psychology of Safety
Are there any psychologists or former psych majors in the house? I am not a psychologist as my credentials would indicate. I’m a self-taught safety professional. For the next hour I want to introduce you to a topic that’s been of particular interest to me for some time—behavior based safety. Please hold your questions until the end. I’m going to ask for your participation right up front and ask that you help me by being truthful. Please provide feedback and let me know what you think and whether I’m off-base with anything. Presented by: Dan Hannan, CSP, CHMM Safety Director Associated General Contractors of MN

2 What This Presentation is NOT!
Although we are talking about how the mind works, NO hypnosis will be performed . It is NOT a group therapy session to uncover some horrible aspect of your childhood. It is NOT going to involve an IQ test or otherwise measure your safety intelligence or aptitude.

3 Presentation Objective
INTRODUCE the principles that shape our safety behavior OR Why do we think and then do (or not do) what we are suppose (or not suppose) to do to stay safe? I want you to start thinking about how people think (about safety) Curious for many years why we think and behave the way we do both on the job and in our home with respect to safety. Of particular interest is what happens to our thought process once we leave the jobsite? We have been trained to recognize hazards in the workplace but many times that does not carry over into our home life.

4 If you have any questions please hold them until the end

5 Information Sources The analysis of safety behavior or “Behavior Based Safety” is not a new concept. It has been studied for quite a few years by many folks. Certain safety professionals feel it to be worthwhile while some do not. Articles and phone interviews by: Robert Pater Ron Bowles Scott Geller Peter Cholakis Andrew Kapp and Praveen Parboteeah National Safety Council

6 Do you consider yourself a safe person?
Have any of you recorded a lost work day?

7 Do you observe the safety management programs that your company has prepared for its employees?

8 Do you utilize your training, experience and safety equipment and procedures for protecting yourself and others on jobsites? For instance do you use fall protection, safety glasses, hearing protection and otherwise recognize and abate hazards that exist on the job?

9 Do You… …climb into a deer stand, work on your roof at home or otherwise work at heights on or off the job without fall protection? …mow the grass, operate a chain saw or weed whip or other power tools at home or work without safety glasses, hearing protection or steel toed boots? …use a solvent based paint or stain or sand sheetrock in a poorly ventilated area or without the use of a respirator? …utilize electrical devices without the use of GFCI or flipping the breaker?

10 Do You… …work in locations that would be considered a confined space where hazardous atmospheres may exist (i.e. using cleaning chemicals in the shower)? …dig on the job or in your yard at home without clearing buried utilities? …drive a vehicle without using a seat belt or while applying makeup? …ensure that the trailer you are towing (boat) is working properly, its not overloaded and the load is properly secured. No matter how much safety training has been provided why are unsafe acts still being committed (on and off the job?)

11 QUIZ: Unsafe acts (behavior) account for __ % of accidents and injuries?
20-40 40-60 60-75 >75 Answer is >75

12 An Ounce of Prevention is Worth…
Employee and company safety-oriented programs designed to promote safe behavior and make our jobsites a safer: Craft labor apprenticeship training programs OSHA 10/30 Outreach training Volunteer Protection Program (VPP) State OSHA safety partnership programs Tool box talks/best practices Safety seminars and workshops OSHA consultation visits Pre-task planning Health and safety plans…

13 Why do we still place so much time and money into correcting unsafe conditions when more times than not the root cause is human behavior—ability to recognize a hazard and make the proper decision? The company safety professional is an army of one—why not create an army of dozens by modifying front-line employee behavior!

14 An AGC Construction Learning Tool

15 An AGC Construction Learning Tool

16 An AGC Construction Learning Tool


18 Why do we commit unsafe acts when we know better?

19 Does Changing One’s Behavior Toward Safety Really Work?
Absolutely Results from all sectors of manufacturing and construction have shown… 40-75 percent reduction in accident rates and accident costs Greater workforce involvement in safety Better communications between management and the workforce Greater 'ownership' of safety by the workforce More positive attitudes towards safety Greater individual acceptance of responsibility for safety

20 How many of you work with unsafe coworkers?
Have children? What do they have in common?

21 WHY? They just don’t get it!
(they don’t do what they’ve been told, listen to warnings, think things through or learn from their mistakes) WHY?

22 First—set the stage with some current safety psychology principles.
The Psychology of Safe Behavior There appears to be three critical elements that shape our thought and reasoning processes and how we display that in the form of safety behavior (our actions) How We Learn (educated and trained) How we are Motivated and Influenced (to do safety) Ability to Focus and pay Attention (to the task at hand) First—set the stage with some current safety psychology principles. There appears to be three critical elements behind what shapes our thought and reasoning process and how we display that in the form of behavior.

23 The Mental Side of Safety
An accident, injury or illness is the result of one or both of the following Unsafe acts (behavior) Or Unsafe conditions It is the popular belief that behavior accounts for 75-90% of all incidents

24 Basis for Unsafe Behavior
The consequence of behaving unsafely will nearly always determine future unsafe behavior, simply because reinforced behavior tends to be repeated. OR If I do something (knowingly or unknowingly) unsafe and don’t get hurt (and I get the job done faster or cheaper), I will likely do it again (until I do get hurt or am asked to correct to stop [behavior]).

25 Consequence versus outcome…if they succeed will they do it again?

26 Aside from your safety behavior in the workplace, should your employer care about your safety off the job? Why is it important to your employer that good safety habits carry over into your home life?

27 “Working Safe: How to help people actively care for health and safety” by E. Scott Geller, Ph.D.

28 Why is Good Safety Behavior Important at Work AND Away From Work?
For the US population, the two leading causes of accidental death are motor vehicle accidents and falls (also the two biggest accident/death construction exposures). Nine times more workers die accidentally off the job than at work. There are approximately 12,000 deaths and 2.9 million disabling injuries that occur in the home each year.

29 Why is Safety Important at Work AND Away From Work?
The four most common injuries and fatalities on the job—falls, electrocution, struck-by and caught-in. The first two causes are also major factors for injuries and fatalities at home. Many hazards that exist in the workplace also exist away from work. Engrained safety behavior enables recognition and avoidance of these hazards regardless of where they exist


31 Why is Safety Important at Work AND Away From Work?
The mental strain caused by the loss of life or serious injury to a co-worker. Costs—Whether on the job or at home, unsafe behavior equates to large financial consequences for both the employer and employee.

32 COSTS 128 million employees receiving workers compensation benefits in 2005 at a cost of 55 billion dollars or an average of $21,000 per claim. (National Safety Council Injury Facts 2008) According to commonly accepted safety management concepts for every $1 in medical or insurance compensation costs ("direct costs") for a worker injury, $5-50 more are likely to be spent on "indirect costs" to repair building, tool or equipment damage; to replace damage products or materials; and to make up for losses from production delays and interruptions. An additional $1-3 in indirect costs will be spent for hiring and training replacements and for time to investigate the incident.

33 Developing an “all-the-time” safety mindset to change behavior and create a safety culture

34 How many of you personally have…
Worked at least 5 years without a lost workday incident? 10 years? 15 years? 20 years or more? Congratulations!!! You are all very lucky to not have been injured on the job, correct?

35 Luck has only a little to do with it.
NO!! Luck has only a little to do with it. A large part of your success has likely been determined by the priority you, your co-workers and your employer place on your safety and the safety of others. This is expressed in your safety behavior.

36 Three Primary Safety Behavior Components
How we learn (training and education programs) How we are motivated or influenced to behave safely How we focus or pay attention to instructions and tasks

37 #1 Learning Processes

38 Characteristics of Adult Learners
Adults learn and retain information at different speeds. Adults are most receptive to training if they have an immediate use or need for the skill or knowledge being taught. Adults bring a great deal of life experience to a training situation. It is important to allow adults to share their knowledge and expertise. Everyone is different—language or speech barriers, mental aptitude, etc. Direct application immediately after training seats good habits (behavior)

39 Characteristics of Adult Learners
Adults have expectations about what they are being taught. In the case of safety it would be that they are being taught the correct way of doing things to be safe and productive. Information retention and learning is based on what is already known. Learning progresses from the simple to the complex. People learn best if you break a process or skill into fairly simple pieces for learning retention. A skill must be used to be remembered.

40 It is Estimated . . . that the average person retains about 7 items in his or her short-term memory. that it takes between 10 and 15 contact times with a hands-on skill before we retain it in our long-term memory

41 Adults Will Remember… 10% of what we Hear 15% of what we See
20% of what we Both Hear & See 40% of what we Discuss with others 80% of what we Experience Directly or Practice 90% of what we attempt to Teach Others The % increases as we “use” and take ownership of our knowledge (training and experience).

42 Effective Training and Learning Techniques often involve the following sequence…
You read the directions (procedure), I tell you how to do it and then show you (demonstrate). You tell me, show me and then write down the process or steps, then I’m going to read what you wrote to see if it makes sense. Research indicates that we loose 95% of what we’ve learned in a training session in 2 weeks!

43 So…How Does the Learning Aspect of my Training Impact My Safety Behavior
The quality of instruction and learning needs to be evaluated to ensure effectiveness—DO NOT assume everyone will comprehend and retain equally. A quality effective training program says the employer values and is committed to the safety of the employee. Solid training programs that build a sense of personal responsibility are considered successful and especially if safe behavior is carried away from the jobsite—back to your home!

44 #2 Motivation and Influence

45 Nothing says motivation like…

46 Keeping yourself safe requires both your mind and body.
Motivation Motivation = ”…the forces influencing people so as to control the making of their decisions…” What are the factors that motivate us and influence our level of effort with regard to safety (output of mind and body)? Keeping yourself safe requires both your mind and body. When your life is on the line it only takes a lapse of either to yield disastrous results.

47 Factors that Shape Motivation
GOALS The establishment of clear attainable goals, that the employee has helped set, coupled with a reward (recognition, $’s, etc.) stimulates the need to do well. Established safety goals and meaningful rewards usually equates to a safer work effort and behavior. The trend for safety recognition is behavior based—reward for safe behavior rather than zero injuries. Instill a personal responsibility to recognize unsafe actions/near misses by promoting ownership of safety to change behavior.

48 Factors that Shape Motivation
Needs, Wants and Beliefs Generally speaking, if a worker’s needs and wants are satisfied (hazard-free work environment, correct tools to get the job done, etc.) they are more content and will be motivated to perform well and do what is asked of them—like observing safety requirements People tend to be motivated if what they believe they are doing (safety) makes a difference for them and others.

49 Factors that Shape Motivation
Risk Risk = the likelihood of an outcome (probability) and the severity of the consequence (how bad). Everyone evaluates and perceives risk differently—why do some people like skydiving and some do not—reward outweighs the probability of cost? We all perform risk analysis every day—merging onto the freeway, smoking a cigarette, or choosing to enter a confined space or an excavation without following the right procedures.

50 Factors that Shape Motivation
Risk The consequence of behaving unsafely (RISK) will nearly always determine future unsafe behavior, simply because reinforced behavior (no accident or consequence) tends to be repeated.


52 Factors that Shape Motivation
Risk For the home, do you perceive the risk to be less than on a jobsite? At home we are removed from the construction environment which may lead us to believe less severe outcomes. However, a fall from 10 feet likely would have the same outcome on the job or at home if you are not using fall protection.

53 Factors that Shape Motivation Risk
Risk perception examples: “Walk the line”—iron workers Hearing conservation—”its only one cut”

54 Factors that Shape Motivation
Association The degree to which the strength of the motivational process affects us is a function of association—good or bad! Good positive outcomes make stronger associations (neurological connections) while poor ones do not. The motivational connection is stronger if for instance one of your co-workers (close association) were injured or killed on a jobsite versus seeing or reading a story about someone on a jobsite in California.

55 Factors that Shape Motivation
Physical, Emotional, Environmental Sleep—the lack of sleep accounts for thousands of traffic and work related accidents, injuries and deaths each year. If a lack of sleep does not kill you it can slow you down and affect the quality of your work. Heat/cold—it is a demonstrated fact that heat, cold, humidity and lack of sunlight affect our mental and physical desire (motivation) to work. Personal stress—events in your life (death, divorce, etc.) affect our level of effort. Medication/illegal drug use—alteration of attitude/behavior All of these can contribute to someone having a “bad attitude”, low motivation and likely unsafe behavior

56 Factors that Shape Motivation
“Git-R-Dun” Factor “I don’t care what it takes get the job done…no excuses.” If this is the message from the superintendant, project manager or management, what priority does this place on safety?



59 Factors that Shape Motivation
Compliance and Consequence ”…if you don’t follow this procedure or use this piece of safety equipment you will be fired”. Is there recourse or consequence for reckless behavior (not following safety policies, rules, etc.)? Is such a policy fairly enforced, consistent and supported by management? The effectiveness of punishment is dependent upon its consistency. It only works if it is given immediately, fairly and every single time an unsafe act occurs.

60 Factors that Shape Motivation
Compliance and Consequence Punishing people for everyday infractions of safety rules (e.g. not wearing a hard hat) is a very difficult thing to do consistently and does not address the underlying problem (why are they choosing not to wear it?--e.g. the hard hat is uncomfortable or gets in the way of doing the job efficiently). Punishment is Most Effective When… It is reserved: [1] to those who deliberately put other people at risk; and [2] only after the organization has done everything in its power to create the safest working environment and the employee still commits unsafe acts that are willful and aimed at flouting authority.

61 Factors that Shape Motivation
Ethics “The organizational ethical climate refers to the specific shared perceptions of organizational practices and procedures that define what is considered right or wrong. This shared perception of the accumulated expectations serves as a ready form of reference for guiding the behaviors of its employees”. Studies have shown where a strong ethical climate exists, sound employee behavior follows. Do your company’s guiding ethical principles motivate good safety behavior?

62 Motivation…Final Thought
“There are very few things that can build self-esteem (and motivate) within an individual, more effectively than the “powers of positive reinforcement” for desired habits and behaviors”. Recognize and reward safe behavior

63 #3 Attention and Focus

64 Attention—Nighttime Work Zone Safety

65 Attention and Mental Focus
"Are the schedules being accelerated so quickly that people are being sloppy and not paying attention to detail?" asked Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers' Association, the largest contractor group in New York City. OSHA investigators concluded Hardrock didn't watch the rigging that maneuvered the girder closely enough, said John Healy, director of the agency's Englewood office. "The company really didn't have a strong practice of training their people in following up and monitoring that they are paying attention to rigging at all times," Healy said.

66 Attention and Mental Focus
ENR report July 29, 2008 “Some see the project schedule as unrealistic. City Center ($9.4 billion, 76 acres), Las Vegas, is being built in the same time frame that it took to complete the adjacent $1.6 billion, 37 story Bellagio Resort which is only one building and 25% the amount of space.” Imagine the mental focus required for this fast-paced work scheduled especially when fatigue is a major concern. Some 13 workers have died on this project to date.

67 Easier said than done some times right?
Pay Attention! Easier said than done some times right?

68 Attention and Mental Focus
How many of you can honestly say that you mentally focus on specific tasks on a jobsite? Life would be a drag if we had to focus 100% of the time on everything we did. Skilled labor means, to a certain degree, that you have developed such an expertise and familiarity that it allows you to do many parts of your job without “thinking”


70 Attention A faster paced, media blitzed multitasking society has had an affect on the attention spans of younger people (i.e. cell phone, I-Pods, text messaging, video games, Internet, etc.)? There are more diagnosed cases of ADD than ever. The ability to focus during an activity usually equates to a more efficient safer outcome—no shortcuts or forgotten steps. Attention is an attribute that can be improved with skills training. Attention can be improved just like reading skills or other mental activities

71 Attention Improvement Techniques
Reduce area stimuli—sights or sounds affect our ability to focus (i.e. some people require near silence to read and retain). Complete one task at a time—no multi-tasking. When distracted completely stop and then restart the activity. Take breaks when mentally fatigued to “re-focus”. Work rested and check personal issues at the door or take time off.

72 Final Thoughts The three contributing elements shaping the safety mindset and resulting behavior are: Learning—how, quality and frequency Motivate correctly to “do safety” Attention or focus on our actions

73 Wouldn’t it just be easier if…
“You will be the safest employee ever”

74 Thank You NAWIC for this opportunity Have a safe, controlled behavior, conference

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