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Employee Risk-Taking

How much are you willing to tolerate?

Risk management in the workplace can be challenging. Understanding risk and how people respond to it can enhance your safety program. Know the types of risks your employees are taking, and how to correct them.

The Types of Risk
There are two types of risk-taking. Involuntary risks are those that employees are forced to take against their will in the workplace—if a company does not allow personal protective equipment, for example. Involuntary risks:

  • Usually result from substandard working conditions
  • Are unacceptable to employees
  • Should not be tolerated.

Voluntary risks are risks that employees accept and take knowingly, despite the potential consequences. If protective gear is available, and an employee chooses not to wear it, he or she is taking a voluntary risk. These types of risk:

  • Stem from workplace experience and complacency
  • Are perceived as less dangerous than involuntary risk
  • Are harder to identify/monitor than involuntary risk.

Keep Safety First
Achieving a risk-free environment is impossible; however, companies need to have programs and systems in place to identify and correct risk-taking. Don’t get complacent! Effective methods of risk reduction include:

  • Constantly reminding employees of the risks and hazards of their jobs
  • Safety meetings, posters and letters to keep safety at the forefront
  • Conducting ongoing employee training to reduce risky work behavior
  • Using an employee observation program to find and eliminate risk-taking
  • Establishing standards of behavior and adhering to them
  • Having safety contacts on the floor.

Ultimately, it is up to you to establish just how much employee risk-taking you and your company are willing to accept. Good luck, and stay safe!

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Tom Eynon Meet the Author
Tom Eynon is a senior associate with B & R Compliance Associates, based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and on the Web at www.brcompliance.com.

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