Over the years I am sure all of us have heard plenty of people lay out why something will not happen. I’ve had many conversations over the years with owners & managers worried about safety compliance. Some express anger at the ever changing rules placed upon business by the regulatory agencies. Others expressed distain and even boasted how unlikely anything of consequence would ever happen to them. Maybe this is true for the short term but I’ve found sooner than later the injury/accident bug hits. When it does hit those in denial it typically hits them hard.
The dictionary states Denial as: The action of declaring something to be untrue; “she shook her head in denial”
Why do so many have the mindset “it will never happen to me” or something along those lines? Is it is wishful thinking on their part or is it they don’t care about their employees or company reputation? No. the answer to that question is rather plan and simple. If an owner or manager has never experienced extreme accidents in the workplace they lack the knowledge that comes with having to react to those accidents or incidents. If you’ve never suffered an OSHA reportable or a workplace fatality you have zero to base it on. The denial is not by design its simple hard to relate to the idea if you’ve never experienced it in your past. So the idea of spending the company’s hard earned income of “unnecessary training” seems ludicrous to some. Why go to all this energy and expense when you believe “it will never happen here?” Until it does…..now what?
I cannot begin to tell you how many times my phone has rang in the last decade from organizations with this denial mindset I met with long ago. Back then it was “thank you for your time BUT we want to think about it.” Code words for not interested because we see no value in this safety “stuff” you presented. Although it is changing the majority in business still look at safety compliance & training as just another expense. A pencil whip attitude of “just give us the basics please” or cover their bottom line. The quickest way to go from creating a positive to a negative moral in a organizations is lack of bye in from the employees. Once they see management doing the bare minimum, not holding anyone accountable or talk a talk but not back it up forget it. That hole will be so deep it would almost take a restructure to dig out of.
However what’s worse is if the entire crew acts as if it will never happen. Once unsafe activity is allowed it becomes acceptable. Once acceptable it becomes a way of operating. After that it will only be a matter of time before the never happens turns into what the H just happened? Next question will be “why is there an ambulance pulling into our drive?”
Look the old saying: “Never say never” can apply here. As the owner or manager of your organization the mindset is up to you to create. You either have a positive proactive one or you don’t. Gamblers know the odds always favor the house and if you keep rolling the dice eventually you lose it all. Safety compliance and training are not a game of chance. Remember two people went to work on a railroad track in PA a few weeks ago never thinking it would their last days of life. It will never happen to us but it did. Think their family misses them? I do.
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