As employers, we need to put a premium on workplace safety. Otherwise, work-related injury or illness will cost a company both financially and in terms of reputation. The latest data from Injury Facts show that the total cost of work injuries in 2018 was $170.8 billion, broken down as follows: $52.4 billion in wage and productivity losses, $35 billion in medical expenses, $57.6 billion in administrative expenses, $12.8 billion in employers’ uninsured costs, and $13.1 billion in motor vehicle damage and fire losses combined.
One might ask what can we do to help reduce these costs and create a safety culture within an organization. Psychology is indispensable in perpetuating an organizational mindset not of safety per se, but of performance excellence. This focus on performance excellence, in turn, drives desired outcomes both in delivering outstanding performance and in equally exceptional safety management performance. In other words, psychology is used to cultivate a culture that values not only the final work product, it also includes the way work is performed to arrive at that final product. This way, valuing safety comes organically, as doing things safely is part of performance excellence. Creating a culture of excellence will take time, as well as a top-down approach, where management identifies a clear vision and then empowers the workforce to be part of that vision.
Centering Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
This importance in putting employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing at the center of workforce practices has long been championed by psychologists. Consequently, these approaches can help ensure the mental and emotional enhancement of employees. The end game of all this is to make sure everyone in the workplace feels safe, secured, and comfortable. In this way, employees will be more likely to maintain performance excellence, which then leads to a more conscious effort to do things the right and safe way.
These desire to achieve performance excellence is why more companies are now turning to occupational health psychology (OHP). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines OHP as the application of psychology to improve employees’ quality of work-life and promote their safety, health, and well-being. It is a relatively new field, but one that can help employers to improve workplace conditions, workforce satisfaction, and workplace safety. Many systems look at the behavior of the work force in constructing a culture that promotes both performance and safety.
What’s the Goal?
The goal of management, therefore, is to improve employment relationships. In simplest terms, the better the relationship, the better it is for your workforce in all aspects of work. They will be healthier and more in tune with how the company operates. They will also be able to perform with excellence, resulting in increased safety in the process.
Creating a safe workspace is not just ensuring that workers are physically protected. The psychology of safety needs to be addressed too.
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