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Employers urged to look beyond visible safety issues to hidden risks

Employers urged to look beyond visible safety issues to hidden risks

ORLANDO, Fla. — Many safety professionals concentrate on slip, trip and fall hazards, lockout/tagout compliance and other visible safety issues, but there also needs to be a focus on hidden risks such as company and worker attitude, a speaker at the American Association of Safety Engineers Safety 2014 conference said.

Samuel J. Gualardo, president of National Safety Consultants Inc. in Salix, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday encouraged his audience to “look beyond the obvious (workplace risks) and ask some very difficult questions” during a session about the causes of worker and workplace risk.

He said some companies encourage a “business as usual” approach, accepting that risk is inevitable and continuing to “get the work done” without developing further safety measures.

“There's a mindset that starts to develop that we are in a dangerous business so, consequently, somebody is going to get hurt,” Mr. Gualardo said.

Risk shouldn't be accepted or rewarded, he added, noting that some companies will pay workers more money to get things done faster — in other words, to take more risks.

“Employees just kind of learn to accept risk,” Mr. Gualardo said. “They don't whine about it, they don't complain about it. And any safety intervention is perceived as unnecessary or overkill.”

It's up to an organization's safety professionals or upper management to institute a safety culture and get rid of that attitude, he added.

In the National Football League, for example, “concussions are causing brain trauma to these players,” he said. “You could say, 'These players, they take the risk, they assume the risk, they contribute to their own negligence.' I get all that, but the NFL also has an obligation to say, 'We've got to fix this problem.'”