Rock Products

NOV 2012

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 87

FOCUS ON HEALTH & SAFETY Motivating Miners to Work Safely By James Sharpe What do you do when your safety statistics hit a plateau, and you try every trick in the book but they still won't budge? Well‐known risk communications consultant Peter Sandman has some ideas that might help. In a recent article in an industrial hygiene trade publica‐ tion, Sandman suggests trying to develop intrinsic moti‐ vation in your miners. Reward and punishment are extrinsic motivators, but getting a guy to work safely be‐ cause something inside him drives that behavior repre‐ sents intrinsic motivation. Perhaps the easiest people to motivate intrinsically are workers whose value system includes trying to do the best job they can. Back in my days as a cub reporter, I wanted very much to be regarded among my newsroom colleagues as a reliable and accurate purveyor of the news. But once I let bias get in the way of a story and was called on it. All my editor said was, "I thought you knew better." It's all he had to say. I never made that mistake again there. Sandman also suggests shining a light on those you want to motivate because, he says, it is a core principle of risk communication that people are motivated by other people's attention. Perhaps that is one of the se‐ crets behind the success of behavior‐based safety. But what works even better than being watched is if peo‐ ple's opinions are sought, valued and integrated into the company's safety policy or practice. Thus, put peo‐ ple on safety committees that have real teeth to effect change or implement a genuinely participatory behav‐ ioral safety program. Of course, being valued for what you think applies at the safety professional level as well. If he or she is buried within the bureaucracy and is considered nothing more than a narrow specialist rather than someone who helps set company safety policy, then a motivation problem may exist there too. Sandman suggests another approach with workers is to increase their sense of outrage about the risk of work‐ place injuries. "[O]utrage is the most intrinsic of intrinsic motivators," he says. Sandman suggests playing the fear card to achieve outrage, but safety pros know it has its downside, most notably that it is hard to sustain. 38 ROCKproducts • NOVEMBER 2012 You'll get some miners' attention by asking if taking a shortcut is really worth it in the end. If cutting corners isn't really more about laziness than about what the boss wants? (If it is what the boss wants, that's where your at‐ tention needs to go.) If getting injured and paying the price is letting their family down? If not looking out for a co‐worker is showing a lack of caring and camaraderie? Is still having 10 fingers and toes after working for years in a hazardous profession something to be proud of? They say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but some safety pros have learned that the way to get some people to work more safely is through their loved ones. Awards dinners, open houses, quarry days, etc. are ways to involve the family. Spouses can be great motiva‐ tors, and having the miners' kids at these events vividly underscores what's at stake. The presence of the miner's family also serves as a reminder to management about what really matters. It's harder to be motivated in a company that treats its employees disrespectfully and shows little regard for its neighbors or the environment. Workers care far more about what management thinks in a company that is known for quality, values employees and has a sterling reputation in the community. Management culture has a profound influence on safety. Workers who are proud of who they work for show it in the way they do their jobs. Dirty Jobs actor Mike Rowe will tell you much of safety training is boring. Still, if done right, it can be a motiva‐ tor too. Trainers succeed not only when they relate the rules, but also explain why those rules are necessary. Compliance is more likely if everyone knows why a re‐ quirement is there in the first place. It's even more help‐ ful if you can explain how effective the rule has been in preventing injuries. Training should also instruct workers on how to ap‐ proach a job from the perspective of risk. What tools and skills do I need to do it? What are the conditions under which it will be done? What could go wrong, and how do I prepare for that possibility? Until MSHA decided en‐ forcement was the way to safety nirvana, the agency tried to get miners to SLAM (stop, look, analyze, man‐ age) risks. That's precisely what miners should be doing every day. E

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Rock Products - NOV 2012