Taking dangerous shortcuts can be unsafe and at times a common practice can cause serious accidents. Some examples are:
- Using rolling and stationary chairs instead of ladders to get to elevated places that could result in falls,
- Grinding materials on a grinding machine hurriedly without eye protection to finish the job could result in an eye injury.
- Tools meant for one purpose but used for another. For instance a screw driver being used as a pry bar instead performing the work with a pry bar.
- Not using any personal protection equipment where required to quickly get the job done.
In many cases, a shortcut involves danger. Avoiding dangerous shortcuts is up to each employee.
According to the National Safety Council’s Safety and Health Magazine in the article, No Excuses, identifies What drives workers to take safety shortcuts?, by Ashley Johnson, Associate Editor, states the following:
- “One major reason why workers take shortcuts is they are in a rush to get the job done”.
- “Pointing out the potential negative consequences can help discourage workers from skipping steps”.
- “Management should design each job so that the safe way also is the easiest way”.
What can be done to ensure that employees do not take dangerous shortcuts? The article No Excuses goes on to say regarding Management’s Responsibility that “workers do not make decisions in a vacuum. Safety experts say worker shortcuts often reflect larger problems in an organization.
As director of health, safety and environment for the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers, Michael Wright looks into several industrial incidents each year. “In a lot of cases, the first thing management says is that the guy took a shortcut and, when we look at it, we see that the shortcut was almost inevitable given the way the job was structured,” he said”.
Management is responsible for the safety of their employees and need to support the safety initiative and take the lead and set the example for safety emphasizing that shortcut to safety is unacceptable and have a disciplinary policy in place for corrective action for follow-up.
To assist employees to avoid dangerous shortcut situations the following tips would help:
- Remind employees to work safely and not take dangerous shortcuts before work.
- During safety training use this as a reminder for employees.
- Safety committees can provide this as a topic for discussion to share in their various areas.
- Use this as a tool box safety topic.
- Communicate this in the company and safety committee newsletters.
Yes, taking dangerous shortcuts can be unsafe and at times a common practice may result in a serious accident. Ongoing communication, reminders, taking safety seriously and management commitment and support will provide the common sense approach in Don’t Short Cut Your Way to Safety.
No Excuses – National Safety Council (NFC)
Taking Workplace Safety Shortcuts, Improve Safety Culture and Creating Workplace – Video
Copyrighted by Matthew J. Key from his forthcoming book “The Safety Corner”.