Changing Behavior

When I recently analyzed all the major safety incidents we had in the last several fiscal years, my analysis showed that many times the injury was the result of a decision made by the individual who got hurt. The actual statistics are:  18 of 41 First aids (44%), 14 of 19 Medically Treated Incidents (74%) and 2 of 4 Lost Time Incidents (50%). In each of these incidents, if the person had really thought about what he was doing, mostly likely the injury would not have occurred.

A safety program called SafeStart® ( believes that all behavioral injuries can be traced back to four causes: Rushing, Fatigue, Frustration and/or Complacency. These factors result in mind not on task, eyes not on task, putting yourself in the line of fire, and/or balance/traction/grip issues.

These are behavioral based and not compliance issues. DuPont’s safety training ( suggests that you cannot get the safety result you want just by telling people to be safe. We can go back to the old “Command and Control” method of executing work, but we will find there is not a big enough police force to handle this method.  We have to work on the behavior and culture of our entire organization and that organization includes our subcontractors.

It is important to continue to emphasize training for our workers including keeping them involved in pre-task analysis.  I am convinced with some of these injuries, the person may have had their head in their job, but simply did not recognize a potential hazard.  This is why I like pairing up inexperienced workers with more experienced workers.    

Most people will listen to what we say, short term, but everyone will respond to how we act. If we do not believe in what we are doing, we cannot get to a safety level of Inter-dependence (we are all responsible for safety for yourself and others) and our goal of Zero Harm. I believe the safety results we are getting is a direct reflection of our leadership. Our Leadership Shadow follows us everywhere we go. We can continue to reduce our low injury rate, but it is up to us. Zero Harm cannot just be our goal, it must be our commitment.