Welcome to the July 2016 edition of the National Safety Council Community Safety Division Newsletter! We’re very excited to have you as a member of the Division and are looking forward to our Division initiatives and developments to come. Your involvement is very important to us and we’re looking forward to bringing you valuable information, updates and resources within Community Safety. With so many important issues in our communities and off-the-job lives, our Division has an important role in the safety community and an even more important part in the world at large. Division Updates
Here at the Community Safety Division, we’re preparing to begin our new round of strategic planning. This is a very exciting time for us as we’re planning all of the great resources, tools and programs that will enable our members to enhance their community safety and off-the-job safety cultures within their teams.
With the National Safety Council Congress and Expo coming up, our Division meeting will be focused on these efforts. We’ll be discussing our website and resource archive being built as well as the ACE Recognition Program that will soon be rolled out to recognize those organizations excelling in off-the-job safety.
We hope to see you at our meeting at Congress!
Community Safety Division
11 a.m. to noon Monday, Oct. 17
El Capitan, Anaheim Hilton
Please register for our Division meeting when you register for Congress. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Negative Implications of Personal Pride on Safety
Cory Worden, M.S., CSHM, CSP, CHSP, ARM, REM, CESCO
Pride is an interesting thing. It can be good, especially when linked to confidence, competency, and ability. It can lead to esprit de corps. It can lead to excellence. However, pride can also lead to arrogance. It can lead to conceit. It can lead to someone not listening to someone else regardless of logic and reason if only to spite them.
What does this have to do with safety?
Human interaction and communication is the cornerstone of safety. Hazards must be identified, hazard controls must be developed, hazard controls must be trained and communicated, unsafe conditions must be communicated, and unsafe behaviors must be coached. If pride gets in the way of this – and it does – safety suffers. Unfortunately, human nature is to defend one's pride; if the defense of pride gets in the way of recognizing or controlling a hazard, someone might have a strong ego but remain exposed to hazards, or worse – expose others to hazards.
Case Study #1: Pride at Home
A Grandma has raised her kids and, despite some bumps, bruises, and illnesses over the years, they grew up well and had children of their own. Grandma, volunteering to help watch the kids, has a play area set up with her grandkids' toys in it. Some of these toys are small enough to fit in the kids' mouths. Often, Grandma will walk between rooms while doing laundry while the kids play with their toys.
One afternoon, noticing the toys that could be choking hazards, Grandma's son, the kids' father, asks Grandma if she monitors the kids playing with these toys to ensure they don't choke on them. Grandma immediately takes offense to this question, immediately stating that those toys were, in fact, the same ones that her son played with growing up and, after all, he didn't choke on them. Furthermore, how dare he question her ability to keep the kids safe?
This situation has now become a defense of pride. In reality, the situation is simple: a hazard was identified in the possible choking hazard, a risk was assessed in that the kids could choke on the toys as they play with them several hours a day, and two hazard controls exist – eliminate the hazard by removing the toys or administratively monitor the kids to ensure they don't choke. However, instead of simply controlling the hazard, pride got in the way of safety. The conversation become about Grandma's ability to take care of the kids, about Grandma's competence. Grandma, in her argument, would rather her son apologize for questioning her and continue letting the hazard remain exposed at a risk to the grandkids if only to spare her pride. Even in a cost versus benefit analysis, removing the toys requires no effort or cost but removes the hazard while not removing the toy leaves a risk exposed. There's no good that can come from not controlling the hazard but plenty of negative outcome for not doing so. However, somehow, pride has gotten in the way of this simple situation being resolved.
How does this relate to work?
Case Study #2: Pride at Work
A Registered Nurse has been in his role for 17 years. He is not only been awarded and recognized many times by his hospital, but also by the entire hospital system. He is not only considered a technical subject matter expert, but is also a supervisor on his unit and is responsible for the performances of other nurses. However, this nurse's unit has sustained a series of injuries and exposures over the past many years, a trend not acknowledged until a new Safety Manager was brought on board.
After coming aboard, the new Safety Manager began looking into the safety situation in the hospital system. After discussing the situation with individual hospital Safety Committees and leaders, it became evident that, instead of developing a hazard analysis and risk assessment so leaders and employees knew and understood what hazard areas apply to their work and the associated severity levels, the common sentiment was that the hazards were simply 'the cost of doing business' and that injuries were not preventable. Some of the hazards such as patient handling could even lead to patient safety issues. Some of the hazards such as occupational disease exposure could lead to cross-contamination issues and infection control challenges. However, after all levels of the organization were included in the discussion, had provided feedback and had bought-into the solutions, hazard analyses were developed and hazard controls were implemented. Even then, this nurse and the nurses on his unit were found to not utilize them. Even with patient handling equipment available, this nurse didn't use it, even at the risk of his own safety and that of his patients and fellow employees. Leading indicators such as observations showed noncompliance with hazard control use while lagging indicators continued to show injury rates sustained or increased. Often, this nurse also refused to complete observation or inspections at all to participate in the safety program.
When the Safety Manager discussed these issues with this nurse and, eventually, his administrative leadership, the Safety Manager was barraged with comments referring to unavoidable hazards, equipment and PPE slowing them down and how the Safety Manager couldn't understand nursing because he wasn't a clinician. The Safety Manager was told the nurses should simply be left alone to handle their business as they wanted to, even if it meant bodily fluid exposures, needlesticks, and back injuries. After all, he was told, it was Occupational Health and Safety's job to 'support them and help them
after they were injured.' Furthermore, he was told, it was Safety's job to perform observations and that safety leadership 'shouldn't be punted to them.' After all, they stated, they had been doing their jobs for many years and didn't need somebody coming in and telling them any different.
Ultimately, this nurse's and, ultimately, his leadership's pride has gotten in the way of safety. Hazards have been recognized and have already been known to cause multiple injuries, some with diseases contracted and some with permanent back injuries resulting from them. Hazard controls were known, available, implemented, and even convenient for use, but this nurse refused to use them, even at great risk to himself AND his team and patients because he felt it beneath him to work with a 'new' Safety Manager, especially one who wasn't a nurse. Furthermore, by communicating, directly and indirectly, these negative sentiments towards safety to his team members, this leader was destroying any safety culture in the unit and instead developing them to work against safety and spite any hazard controls. In short, this nurse would rather let clear and present dangers exist to him and his team than utilize and implement hazard controls, if only to spite the Safety Manager who dared to ask questions about injury rates, causations, and the lack of due diligence on the unit. Pride had gotten in the way of safety.