Why Safety Rules Are Broken in the Workplace

posted on: Thursday December 6, 2012

While the saying “rules were made to be broken” sounds very take-charge, in the world of safety, it is idiotic. Yet injury reports and safety surveys show us that even the most safety-conscious employees sometimes ignore protocol. When the consequences can be so severe in so many jobs, why take the risk?

For starters, sometimes the risk seems to disappear. Take, for example, a forklift driver. He may be very conscientious about how fast he drives when the warehouse is full, but if it is free of obstacles and people, he may decide to drive faster than his employer deems safe. Anyone driving on a cop-free road is likely to make a similar decision. People who neglect to wear PPE may simply decide that it isn’t necessary for the task at hand.  Sometimes the risk “goes away” when the authority-figure to impose it is absent. This makes for an even worse situation. If something does go wrong – the forklift tips on a turn or an object falls from a shelf – there is no one else there to get help.

A second popular reason people ignore safety rules is when it feels OK to break a rule to save time. A general example of this is that we all know the rule to lift with our legs and not our backs. However, if an object is relatively light and it’s faster to just bend over and grab it, we ignore it. Health care practitioners will attest to back injuries resulting from picking up what should have been a light object – an end table, a box, a paint can – using one’s back. The same concept can be applied to the workplace. One person may do a two-person job. Someone may decide to carry and object that should be carted. When we see accidents from these actions, they make very smart people look very stupid.

An interesting factor in breaking rules is the state of the economy. With less revenue, companies can afford less safety training, fewer employees, and poorer equipment maintenance. Safety protocol in a struggling business needs to amped up, not dropped down. An accident causing injury or damage could devastate the business.

So how does the safety manager or supervisor address these issues? In some cases, more frequent monitoring will discourage rule-breaking. Adding eyes on the floor, be it a person or a camera, can keep employees conscientious of the rules. For some people, safety training will go a long way. Reiterate the importance and reason for the rules. If it seems necessary, increase the consequence of breaking the rules. If one incident costs a person his job, he may think twice before neglecting his hard hat.

A more concrete solution is to disable the danger. This may involve purchasing safety guards or different equipment. The right solution will save money in the long run. For the forklift driver, a speed monitoring system may be implemented. Warehouse culture is adopting a forklift-free (FF) environment, which would not only remove risk but save money on maintenance. Modeling changes made in FF environments may also increase safety in companies that don’t need to replace forklifts. A lot of the FF equipment is designed to be safely operated by anyone. A popular forklift replacement is the powered tug. If safety concerns involve moving product in any capacity, a powered tug can be useful in any environment.

Load Movers Inc. design powered tugs for a variety of applications. The controls and load capabilities make these products the safest in the market. A variety of companies have implemented them to move objects weighing hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds. Customers have enjoyed greater productivity and efficiency with the Load Movers. For more information, visit https://www.loadmoverinc.com/.