Understanding the Resistance
to Work Safety and Health


According to The United Nations International Labour Organization, nearly 2 million people die yearly from work-related causes. The statistics are troubling, and most who work in hazardous industries do their best to stay safe. However, it’s not uncommon to find workers and leaders resisting work safety and health improvements even though it’s in their best interests. This article will explore why. 

Understanding People’s Resistance to Safety

While the reasons someone might push back against safety can be as unique as the individual themselves, they can often be broken down into two key areas, workplace culture and a lack of understanding. 

Workplace Safety Culture

Safety culture starts at the top, and the words and actions of leadership shape it. So is your company’s workplace safety culture positive or negative? Here are some questions to ask: 

Do words match behavior?

Do your leaders talk about the value of safety in meetings but then disregard it in their business decisions or speak about it negatively when they view it as an impediment to progress? Words are cheap, and employees will follow the actions and opinions of leadership, good or bad. 

Is safety there to help?

Do employees feel that safety protects the company but not them? The blame game some associate with safety results in employees’ avoidance and negative feelings about the topic. They feel that safety isn’t there to keep them safe, but a threat to their career, and they want nothing to do with it.

Do workers believe injuries are unavoidable?

Unfortunately, some workers and leaders think being injured is just a part of the job and view injury reduction or elimination as impossible. As a result, they push back on work safety and health rules and regulations because they think they take time while ultimately being ineffective. 

Safety culture is complex, involves many factors, and takes time and dedicated effort to cultivate. To change a company’s workplace culture, you must get leadership on board, but before you can do that, you first need to convince them of the value of work safety and health. 

Lack of understanding of the benefits of workplace safety

For work safety and health to thrive, it requires willing participants. Unfortunately, some leaders view safety as a hindrance with little to no return and believe the loss in productivity it may cause is not worth the time invested.

EHS professionals often only speak about safety from an emotional standpoint and struggle to make the business case for safety when educating leadership about its importance. They don’t spend enough time talking about the dollars and cents of safety and how workplace safety has a direct and substantial impact on the profitability of an organization.

A severe workplace accident can result in numerous direct and indirect costs for a company. While medical bills and workers’ compensation are likely the first thing that pops into most people’s minds, the list is long. Accidents may result in increased insurance costs, loss of productivity, regulatory fines, and lower employee morale, to name a few. 

It’s the safety professionals’ job to educate employees and leaders about why safety isn’t just a requirement; it’s also good for business. When a big reason leadership is reluctant to adopt safety comes down to cost, safety professionals must spend more time discussing it in those terms. 

ProcessMAP can help

If your company has recognized the benefits of work safety and health but is still struggling with managing the process efficiently, a shift towards EHS software is an intelligent choice.

EHS software manages the process, improving efficiency and compliance while providing companies with a deeper understanding of risk that leaders can use to make proactive, well-informed business decisions. 

When you have good data, convincing employees and management to buy into safety is much easier.  Schedule a demo today to learn more about how ProcessMAP can help you create a safer workplace.

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