Safety is a priority in every workplace, especially in industries that involve heavy machinery, construction equipment, and vehicles. Knowing how to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies helps employees protect themselves and their colleagues.
However, safety protocols and procedures alone are not enough to ensure a safe work environment. Understanding the psychology of human behavior in emergencies also goes a long way in minimizing injuries and mitigating accidents. This blog outlines and explains the essence of the psychology of safety and how it can be utilized to create a safer work environment.
Workplace Safety: The Cost of an Unsafe Workspace
In 2023, the cost of treating workplace injuries was considerable, reflecting a significant economic and human toll. Per an AFL-CIO report, the total cost of job injuries and illnesses fell between an estimated $174 billion and $348 billion for the year. This figure encompasses various expenses such as wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, and workers’ compensation costs.
Furthermore, the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index reported that the top 10 injuries amounted to $48.15 billion in direct U.S. workers’ compensation costs. According to Liberty Mutual, the biggest causes of these plights where workers obtained injuries included:
- Overexertion involving outside sources: Includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing objects at work.
- Falls on the same level: Where workers slip or trip and fall without changing levels, such as falling on a floor, walkway, or ground surface.
- Falls to a lower level: When a worker falls from one level to a lower one, such as falling off a ladder, roof, or downstairs.
- Being struck by an object or equipment: Workers being hit by an object that is thrown, propelled, or falls from above, as well as being struck by a moving vehicle or piece of equipment.
- Awkward postures: Injuries resulting from tasks that require a worker to assume awkward body positions, including bending, climbing, reaching, standing, kneeling, or sitting.
A workplace can be dangerous, especially where machinery is involved, and this is why we need to follow safety protocols and undergo workspace training programs.
ROI Safety Services provides comprehensive programs to enhance workers’ comprehension of potential risks and necessary precautions. The focus extends beyond personal safety to encompass legal compliance as well.
With tailor-made content for various industries, our training covers many safety principles relevant to different job sites.
Human Tendencies in Emergency Situations
As human beings, we have different reactions to emergencies and near-accident experiences. Psychologists believe human behavior can profoundly change when taken from familiar surroundings or comfort zones. In particular, individuals may act in ways they would typically not under normal circumstances.
Psychological safety is paramount in emergencies, as emphasized by studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Psychological safety gives individuals a sense of security and empowers them to adapt their behavior effectively during emergencies.
Personality traits can influence safety perspectives, enhanced when team members’ personalities are aligned.
Here are examples of human beings responses to emergencies:
Fight or Flight Response
A typical response to an emergency is the fight or flight response. It is a natural physiological response that prepares the body to fight against or run away from the threat.
However, this response can also lead to irrational behavior or panic, which can be dangerous in some scenarios. For example, the fight or flight response might make an individual run toward the fire instead of running for the exit in a fire emergency.
Role of Attention in Safety
Attention is a critical aspect of human behavior in safety. Inattentiveness or lack of concentration can result in costly errors and accidents. The role of attention in safety is to recognize potential hazards and threats and respond accordingly.
For instance, machinery operators should be attentive and alert while handling equipment and always watch for potential hazards.
Perception of Risk
People perceive risks differently based on their individual experiences and cultural background. In some cases, workers might be more comfortable working at dangerous heights, while others may feel uncomfortable performing tasks that involve certain risks.
Understanding risk perception can help employers communicate safety protocols and procedures more effectively, enabling workers to respond to emergencies safely. Moreover, it can also help employees understand and manage their behavior in potentially risky situations.
How to Help Workers Psychologically Deal With Emergencies
Building a Culture of Safety
Creating a culture of safety ensures employees understand and implement safety protocols effectively. A culture of safety instills safety values, attitudes, and behavioral patterns in employees, reducing the likelihood of accidents and disruptions.
Employers should encourage open communication about safety concerns, provide safety training and resources, and actively implement safety procedures in the workplace. By building a culture of safety, employees can work more confidently and efficiently, increasing productivity and preventing injuries.
Practice and Preparedness
Regular safety drills can help employees understand what actions to take in an emergency, improving their response time and reducing the risk of injuries. Employers can ensure that employees are prepared to handle emergencies effectively by providing opportunities for practice and learning.
Right Tools, Lesser Accidents
We use tools and machinery to make work easier, not to endanger lives. Most times, using the wrong tools for a task will result in an accident or fatalities. The right tools allow workers to apply force more safely and effectively. For example, using a suitably sized wrench enables a worker to apply torque more efficiently and with less risk of slip that could cause an injury.
However, anything can go wrong, even with the best equipment for the right task. Before such cases arise, employers should psychologically prepare workers to deal with accidents caused by tools in the workplace by fostering an environment of safety awareness and preparedness.
They should provide regular training sessions on the correct use of tools and how to respond effectively in case of an accident. These sessions should encourage open communication, allowing employees to ask questions, discuss potential hazards, and teach first aid training and emergency procedures in these sessions.
ROI Safety Services Has All Your Safety Needs
ROI Safety Services puts workplace safety as its topmost priority, and that’s why we have everything you need to help keep your workspace safe. With our extensive expertise spanning more than three decades in the safety and environmental compliance sector, we are dedicated to assisting you in establishing a work environment that prioritizes safety and well-being.
Contact us to improve your workspace to a zero-injury-safe work environment today!