Incremental rationalisation and safety culture
J.A. Rodriquez recently wrote an article on how each of us can easily engage in ‘incremental rationalisation’ at work. He used the analogy of how we violate our diet to explain – ‘I know I shouldn’t have it’ moves to ‘maybe this once’ to ‘I deserve it’. The explanation is that we all tend to become nonchalant about the hazards we are frequently exposed to but there really is no excuse.
Whilst there are many contributing factors to workplace accidents, and it's not all about human error, there are times when poor decisions are involved. It is often the most diligent employee who makes the poor decision. Leaders also need to step up and share some of the responsibility for letting ‘incremental rationalisation’ over time contribute to a poor culture.
Every leader states ‘safety is their first priority’ and goes to great lengths to ensure that this is the case. However it is difficult to gauge what is really going on in the elusive front line, as other organizational goals are being balanced.
Understanding a work team's safety climate is a good place to start. Generative HSE’s Safety Climate Survey tool is designed to help an organisation measure safety climate, motivations, perceptions and self-rated behaviour. It has been developed and refined over the past 10 years by a highly regarded team of Nordic occupational safety researchers and has been subjected to rigorous academic and field reviews.
The implementation of a safety climate diagnostic tool such as the Safety Climate Survey provides leaders with the insights they need to understand the climate of a work team, knowledge of how to improve that climate and an ability to keep check of this elusive ‘incremental rationalisation’ and keep the organisation’s fingers out of the proverbial lolly jar, so to speak.