Often when supervisors conduct safety inspections, they tend to concentrate on conditions or “things” that may lead to accidents. While it is very important to frequently identify unsafe conditions and correct those situations, it is even more critical to conduct personal safety evaluations specific to each employee’s individual work practices. Safety professionals have determined that over 90 percent of all injuries are caused by unsafe acts and poor work practices.

This means that individual decisions people make are most often responsible for causing injuries and accidents. Regular personal safety contacts by supervisors can identify unsafe behaviors before an injury takes place. An important goal of safety inspections and coaching employees in safe work practices is identifying and eliminating hazards and/or behaviors that may lead to an accident. Laws of probability are associated with accidents and injuries. For every serious disabling accident, several occur which only result in minor medical treatment. For each of these, many smaller accidents or near misses take place.

Many serious accidents are due to either an accident that starts out small and then worsens unexpectedly, or because of something that on most days would be a near miss. By reducing minor accidents and near misses, the potential for serious injury is also lowered.

The ability to communicate effectively with others and understand what motivates people is critical for coaching employees. What must we know in order to influence the behavior of others? Employees need credit for their work and ideas. Maintainin others’ selfesteem and positive attitudes is a critical step in effective communication and influencing behavior. Dialogue with workers should reinforce safe work habits in addition to identifying unsafe ones. Your goal? Catch people doing things right! This encourages them to continue the same correct behavior.