Jump-Start Your Safety Culture by Changing Environment Perception

Additonal authors: . Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Valdivieso, A.

Reducing accident rates keeps getting more and more complex as the usual tools enter a curve of diminishing results. Fortunately, nothing modifies behaviour in a stronger and wider way than having a robust safety culture. On the other hand, managing cultural change is difficult and the risk of back-fire is very high, especially if the workforce does not trust our intentions. A personalized approach of well chosen and targeted actions tends to be the only yet difficult option. We have found, via experience in the metallurgy and chemistry industries, a way of preparing the company and the workforce to accept these sorts of culture changing measures faster and easier. Using company-wide changes based on workplace perception, yields the most optimal acceptance. It is based in the principle that we all use clues in our environment as guides to choose our behaviour. So, controlling the perception that our workplace generates can affect behaviour and simplify our task before it even starts. It is a matter of using the tools that other disciplines such as marketing, social engineering and architecture bring to us and adapting them to a very defined objective: Having our installations “sell” safety so that our people unconsciously believe that they must adapt to safety values in order to “do well” in said environment. INTRODUCTION After decades of improvements in accident rates, we are understandably hitting a diminishing results curve: most actions that spectacularly reduced accidents in the past (e.g., Innovation in Personal Protection equipment, adapting international standards and legislation, and innovative safety programs; Figure 1) now hardly get us the exponential gains we saw years back, regardless of the investment we put on them. Furthermore, the improvements in safety of the last 3 decades have been creating new sets of issues that start to show their face such as: By reducing accidents we can create feelings of invulnerability as we lose view of the consequences. With innovative protection equipment we increase Risk Homeostasis, meaning that people behave in a more dangerous way in order to maintain a constant level of risk in their lives (Getting closer to fire after getting better fire-proof garments for example). Too much Legislation can create a feeling of disengagement from personal responsibility. And despite improvements, we haven’t really solved the production vs safety confrontation, it is now stigmatized and less visible, yet it tends to reappear in moments of weakness.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019