Whilst for this organisation the average rate of recordable injuries was 2.84 per one million hours worked, there were no trends in the rate and no periods of unusual variation, however there is a cyclical set of what can be referred to as ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ (or ups and downs). We find that this is extremely typical in many organisations, and a parallel can be drawn with COVID-19.
An increase in injuries (or COVID-19 infections or deaths) may exceed Management’s tolerance limits and then trigger special safety efforts, which is what we observed during COVID-19 “lockdowns” across many nations. This reactive approach may create the feeling that people must get hurt (or infected) before there is any action taken. This can reduce Management credibility in the eyes of the workers, or the people of the nation when referring to COVID-19.
In the workplace a decrease in injuries can lead to complacency (as for declining Covid-19 infection rates). If enough pressure is applied from Management or a Nation’s leader such as in countries like New Zealand or Vietnam, there is likely to be a drop in injury or COVID-19 infection numbers, respectively. At this point, our special safety efforts or COVID-19 controls may be dropped or relaxed as we may believe the crisis is over. If we drop our emphasis on safety or the protection of people, the result may be an increase in injury or infection rates again and this is exactly has sadly occurred in countries that have been less successful in their control measures and have subsequently had high COVID-related deaths.
In the early days of the pandemic, many countries commenced lockdown measures; in the UK, however, the lockdown was late and reasonably lenient – travel restrictions in and out of the country were not imposed until several months later. Turning to societal behaviours, we should consider the essence of Japan’s affinity for face coverings - a relationship that can be traced back centuries - and a custom to which Japan’s lower number of deaths from COVID-19 can be attributed, compared with Western nations. In contrast, the wearing of face coverings has been less “accepted” in countries such as the USA and the UK, with the death rates have been significantly higher.
Among the many organisations that DEKRA has worked with over the years, in those that are experiencing a poor safety history, we often see leaders ill-informed or oblivious to safety leadership and how it relates to the overall organisational functioning; this leadership is needed in terms of safety, productivity and financial performance, given that these factors are interconnected. Conversely, we have seen substantial changes in leaders’ behaviours and the results are outstanding; one example being, a CEO who was determined to achieve zero injuries within the organisation from the outset. Due to their success in achieving this goal, the organisation in question is now often referred to as one of the world’s safest manufacturing company. Interestingly, the share price had not been performing well at the start of the process; within 12-month, shares had hit record highs.