After a safety incident occurs at a workplace, the company may take steps to fix the problem. Organizations may be prompted by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations and fines to resolve safety issues after an employee injury or major mistake. Sometimes a close-call or an actual injury also prompts companies to voluntarily shift their focus to safety.
Unfortunately, despite the fact safety improvements usually occur after an incident on-the-job, it is not uncommon for repeated injuries and incidents to occur at the same worksite. Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers should be consulted by victims after each of these injuries so companies can be held accountable. The question, however, is why companies end up repeatedly making the same mistakes which lead to workplace incidents. One new study could have the answer.
Why Do Repeated Atlanta Work Injuries Occur?
Safety News Alert reported on the new study, which was conducted by McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. The study looked at why companies repeat big safety mistakes.
Past research has shown companies either learn from their errors or fail to learn from their mistakes. This should mean some companies where safety incidents occur never repeat their mistakes, while others immediately begin to have problems with the same issues. The new study, however, contradicts this and suggests there is a different explanation for why companies don’t learn.
The explanation is organizational oscillation. Essentially, the researchers believe when a major error or disaster occurs, the company shifts its focus onto safety. Companies aren’t practically able to be so focused on safety and also focused on other things like profitability and innovation. Instead, money, time, attention, and effort are all focused on safety.
Over time, however, there are no more incidents because of the safety focus. Employee turnover occurs and new people come in. The memory of the past problem begins to fade. The focus slowly starts to turn away from safety again, until people are once again paying more attention to productivity and not precautions. This happens until another major disaster or safety incident, and then the focus shifts back again.
Researchers believe it is very difficult for companies to counter this natural cycle and to actually be focused on both safety and profitability at all times. This dual-focus is described as an “unrealistic” goal.
Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for workers to be protected over the long-term. One possible suggestion is for companies to stop thinking of safety as a separate issue and to just incorporate safety precautions into the routine tasks of doing the job right. For example, instead of calling safety goggles safety goggles, they should just be called goggles and their use shouldn’t be because of safety efforts specifically but instead because using goggles is just part of what you do.
If companies can find away out of the organizational oscillation trap and incorporate safety into routine operations rather than treating it as something to focus on, workplaces could become a lot safer over the long-term.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.