Company personnel follow the example of their leader. Attitudes are contagious, so it is of utmost importance that leaders have the right attitude.
Leaders are there to devise, implement, and carry out procedures, and it’s up to them to take the lead in promoting a culture of on-site safety to influence their staff’s behavior. They need to stress that personnel have a duty to ensure their own and others’ safety and health by using equipment safely, wearing the right protective gear, and reporting accidents in the workplace.
Both personnel and management must adopt a safety matters attitude because it is the fundamental factor that contributes to decreased safety-related costs. Also, accidents in the workplace can affect your staff’s productivity because they bring anxiety and stress.
The first thing personnel should do in case of an accident is notify their employer. According to researchers from Washington State University, when there are supervisors with a pro-safety attitude or when a company has a positive safety climate, personnel are less likely to underreport light accidents and near-misses. There were 1,379 people from 35 companies that participated in the study. It was concluded that the real number of workplace accidents (3.43 per employee) was higher than the average number of accidents reported (1.47 per employee). Underreporting is a serious problem because the best practice in workplace safety is reporting all accidents.
Environments where there were neither a positive safety culture nor a supervisor with strong safety leadership skills showed the highest rates of underreporting. Therefore, the solution to reducing the rate of underreporting accidents lies at the organizational and supervisor levels.
The Risk of Underreporting Injuries
Underreporting workplace injuries can negatively impact personnel in various ways, such as:
- Working in an unsafe workplace with unaddressed hazards
- Delays in diagnosis of injuries and receiving proper medical treatment
- Delays in workers’ compensation benefits
- Lack of proof for violations of OSHA regulations
- Inability to return to work due to the severity of injuries and lack of proof of injuries.
To be able to address workplace hazards properly and have a clear picture of safety on an organizational level, there should be no underreporting of accidents. Perhaps nobody was hurt and there was no damage, but there’s always a risk that similar accidents will continue to happen until a serious accident occurs. Staff often doesn’t report minor accidents and injuries because of the short-term benefits. Until supervisors understand that long-term negative effects of poor safety outweigh the short-term benefits, they won’t be able to build a culture of safety on every organizational level.
When a supervisor or company don’t emphasize the importance of safety, personnel are more likely to perform inspections poorly or “pencil whip” them. Therefore, to be sure that inspections are performed correctly, the organization and supervisors should demonstrate a strong pro-safety attitude.