They may not say it aloud, but you know one of the primary reasons some employees don’t follow safety rules is because they think, “It won’t happen to me.”
One way to counter that thought: Arrange to have employees hear important safety messages from a number of different sources.
A new report from the National Weather Service (NWS) backs that up.
NWS just released its internal report on the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak of Feb. 5-6, 2008. The report’s subtitle: Why Some People Don’t Heed Severe Weather Warnings.
Reason: Many people minimize the threat of personal risk through “optimism bias,” the belief that such bad things only happen to others.
This optimism bias was reflected in comments from several affected residents in the report, such as, “They [tornadoes] always seem to hit down the road,” and “We didn’t think it was going to be here.”
A prime example: A woman in Arkansas heard a tornado warning from the local TV news and then from a local radio station. Warning sirens sounded twice. Only after her son-in-law called did she decide to take shelter.
NWS theorizes an important factor in how people respond to warnings is whether they personalize the threat.
This example shows how some people require multiple sources of information to assess personal risk.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to be the only one to repeat safety warnings to workers. Getting others to do it will help. How can you do this?
- Get outside expert speakers to address employees.
- Use other sources of information – such as this Web site – to back up your points.
- Make it really personal: Have an accident victim speak. If one isn’t available, ask workers how their lives would be affected if they were injured.