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Knowledge at Work - UL Workplace Health & Safety

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Workplace Safety

Driving value for safety controls

March 25, 2014 - Posted by Jonathan Jacobi

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U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that speeding-related deaths account for nearly one third of all U.S. traffic fatalities.

But driving very slowly isn’t completely safe either. Slow-moving vehicles must be marked with accident prevention signs or tags for good reason; slow driving can lead to accidents if slower cars are not seen by drivers in faster-moving vehicles.

As with driving, “safe enough” and “optimally safe” in the workplace exist at points between extremes. Requiring that workers go beyond what’s reasonable and necessary can generate resentment and lead to a culture of compliance (where workers will only comply when the safety person is watching).

The ability to empathize is one hallmark of positive culture. Before implementing controls ask, “If the shoe were on the other foot, would this control make sense to me?” When unpopular controls are necessary, explain risk so the value of controls can be clearly understood.

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