Too Much Tolerance
Individuals and their managers have to be held accountable for their unsafe behavior each and every time it occurs, says Brock, “because if you don’t address a safety violation as soon as it happens, you’re essentially giving someone permission to repeat the behavior. Safety has to be non-negotiable.”
According to Brock, employees must understand that breaches of safety will have swift and definite consequences, including suspension or even termination if necessary. Even something like sending the offender for additional training or taking away forklift privileges can have a profound impact, she says.
“It may sound callous,” says Brock, “but the truth is, you can’t afford to put your other employees in jeopardy because of one person’s insistence on behaving unsafely. Nor can you afford to let that person jeopardize him self, customers’ products, trailers and equipment.”
Those “get tough” policies apply to drug and alcohol use more than anything else, says Brock. “If you are involved in a forklift accident, for example, and we find that drugs or alcohol were involved, you are automatically let go,” she explains.
And the statistics support this policy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8 percent of workers use illicit drugs and another 8 percent are considered heavy drinkers.
Employed drug abusers cost employers two to three times as much in medical and workers’ compensation claims as their drug-free counterparts, are five times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim, 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents and late for work three times as often. Substance abusers also are about a third less productive.