If a team member’s mistake leads to an accident, should you blame that employee? Maybe not, according to Indiana University of Pennsylvania Safety Sciences professor Jan Wachter. Wachter believes that human error in the workplace, while not completely preventable, can be managed by better tools to motivate and engage workers in the safety process. Motivation and employee engagement may be the keys to human-error reduction, he says.
Wachter is investigating how well—or how poorly—workers are engaged, or buying into, a shared accountability for identifying at-risk situations and responding to them. For example, an employee may forget her safety glasses and splash disinfectant in her eye. Preventing this type of accident using worker engagement might mean that before each shift, employees get together and remind each other of the specific personal protective equipment needed for that day’s task.
Wachter says actively engaged employees demonstrate a greater sense of personal ownership and compliance with safe work methods, adjust more quickly to needed changes in safety practices, and act proactively to ensure that work is being done in the safest way possible.
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