Prevent human errors with safety coaching

Cynthia Petschke

Posted By: Cynthia Petschke

Tired overworked worker falls asleep during working hours in factory

Workplace accidents are often caused by human error, not faulty equipment. Typically, if an employee has an unsafe attitude, his or her job performance will become careless and a mishap (large or small) will soon follow.

“Unsafe” doesn’t necessarily mean “on purpose,” and “attitude” doesn’t necessarily mean “insubordinate.” Some workers are physically exhausted or stressed; others are undertrained on or inadequately reminded of safety protocols. To help prevent human errors, safety coaching is a good idea for every organization.

Common threats

In simple terms, safety coaching is an ongoing, organized effort by an employer to keep employees up to speed on safety rules, procedures and general wellness. Here are some common threats to workers’ well-being and how coaching can help:

Repetitious job tasks. When employees perform the same task over and over, sometimes they go on autopilot and stop following the rules. Identify such positions and, to the extent possible, add variety to their job tasks, enforce regular breaks and review safety procedures more often.

Sloppy performance. Some employees demonstrate an overall lack of concern or attention to detail. Others like to take shortcuts to be more productive. As part of both safety coaching and a formal performance management process, raise these shortcomings in job reviews and undertake active measures to address them — both in terms of safety and job success.

Trouble at home. Sometimes employees are dealing with issues in their personal lives that affect their focus at work. This can be tricky to address without violating workers’ privacy. Nonetheless, ensure employees are aware that, if they’re struggling at home, you want to help. Many employers do so by offering PTO and mental health care benefits.

Exhaustion. Too many hours on the job or too little sleep slows down physical and mental reactions and seriously threatens safety. Carefully track how many hours of overtime your employees are working. Train supervisors to be aware of how much time salaried employees are putting in, too. Use safety coaching to teach workers the fundamentals of “sleep hygiene” — that is, the doctor-recommended behavioral and environmental practices that promote quality rest.

Nature and intensity

The nature and intensity of safety coaching depends, in part, on the type of work your business does. Construction and manufacturing companies, for example, need to take comprehensive and closely monitored measures to keep workers safe. A more tranquil office environment may not require such effort, though it’s important to remember that safety mishaps can happen anywhere, at any time. Contact us for more info.

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