Good Intentions or Deliberate Risk?

Maximum risk rating

Not many people realize that unintentional injuries are the fifth most common cause of death in Canada (and the third most common cause for men). However, unlike chronic diseases and heart conditions they can strike any age group in any setting. During their first few months on the job, new and young workers in Canada are four times more likely to be injured than they are at any other time. It’s not surprising since new places and new jobs can be confusing and stressful, with people still unsure of how everything works, and likely more inclined to take an unintentional risk. 

Employees often learn by watching supervisors and other employees perform their jobs. Bad habits regularly develop in many places and are often taught to new employees, which is a prime example of good intentions gone wrong. You often hear people say that they’ve done something hundreds of times before and they’ve never had a problem but when dealing with potentially hazardous materials and situations, their good intentions can lead to serious mistakes.

Inconsistencies, bad practices and bad habits make it seem to the employees that, in some situations, ignoring safety is perfectly acceptable and their employer hasn’t proved otherwise. Sometimes, new employees want to establish themselves which makes them more likely to ignore potential hazards just to finish a task. Even experienced workers can take unnecessary risks expecting (or hoping for) a positive result after years of learning bad habits and ignoring health and safety measures.

Knowing the hazards and proceeding anyway is a deliberate risk. Taking risks might also be a result of bad training, bad habits or a lacklustre attitude to safety in the workplace, so employers need to ensure stable and reliable safety practices and instil in their staff a habit of safety.

Hiring new workers is an opportunity for the employer to capitalize on their curiosity and form their safety habits from the start. And it’s never too late to set the record straight with existing employees. Refresher training, toolbox talks and an open door policy are a great way to demonstrate how important safety is within the facility and provide them with the tools to know the difference between deliberate risk and good intentions with dire consequences.