American employers are responsible for complying with their state’s workplace safety and health laws. Businesses that fail to adhere to their safety standards can face significant penalties for noncompliance.
However, dangers exist across all occupations and industries, and all workers are vulnerable as worker’s compensation claims show that specific injuries happen more frequently than others.
Workplace injuries occur anywhere and anytime – in offices, warehouses, and construction sites.
By creating safe work environments and taking appropriate workplace safety factors and safety precautions, business owners can protect their greatest asset – their employees from injuries that can result in lost days on the job and negatively affect productivity.
It is safe to say that safety improves business outcomes – risky operations lead to injured employees, lost time, and a loss in morale. So today, we are diving into how performance management affects workplace safety.
The Link between Performance Management & Workplace Safety
The events of the last few years have shown how ongoing and well-panned safety impacts productivity and quality of work.
However, one big misconception is the belief that workplace safety and performance are mutually exclusive, and for one area to thrive, the other one must be negatively impacted.
In reality, safety and performance complement each other.
When safety improves, so does the performance and productivity of workers. As a matter of fact, with the recent increase in remote and flexible work arrangements, it is becoming more apparent how safety and performance support each other.
According to one study, employees’ health and safety are essential to achieving an organization’s desired productivity and efficiency.
When Performance Management Disrupts Workplace Safety
Typically, poor safety practices do not happen because of a single cause.
Instead, they stem from a combination of factors, including one prominent element - human behavior. Unsafe practices are often a result of poor attitudes, physical conditions, or high levels of performance pressures.
Working under pressure to finish a job on time, cutting corners, and ignoring safety procedures to “get the job done” is a recipe for disaster.
According to the United States Department of Labor, on average, 13 U.S. workers die daily. Surprisingly, the report lists the following as leading causes of death:
Falls, slips, trips.
Violence and other injuries by person or animal.
Contact with objects and equipment.
Exposure to harmful substances or environments.
While these categories describe the events that led to death, they don’t explore any underlying causes of the fatalities.
For example, why would a skilled worker fail to ensure the proper use of fall-arrest protection equipment?
Skimping on safety is only one piece of the puzzle caused by human error - work pressures, stress, and burnout are often the hidden factors.
A myriad of research has shown that stressed individuals are more likely to have an accident in the workplace due to cognitive failures such as forgetfulness or distractibility. Moreover, other studies prove that work pressure directly correlates with occupational accident rates.
While experiencing some stress is unavoidable at a high-pressure job, managers need to be aware of the risks performance management may have for their organization. Setting unattainable KPIs and goals during work appraisals may affect employees’ mental and physical health.
Leaders, managers, and HR professionals must all send the same message – safety first.
Is Your Workplace at Risk?
Implementing a framework and policies that support and promote safety in the workplace is a fundamental first step to maintaining safety practices without affecting your productivity and bottom line.
The link between performance management and occupational safety is clear, and there are specific steps that every organization can take to enforce and strengthen protection for all employees:
Provide frequent safety training for all employees on common workplace hazards.
Create physical and psychological safety work environments.
Provide protection equipment.
Offer support to workers during stressful work experiences.
Give feedback and reviews to workers about their performance.
Set realistic goals for workers during their performance evaluations.
Conduct pre-employment screenings to match the candidate’s physical abilities to a position.
Relocate employees to job positions that match their skills.
Discipline workers who disregard safety standards.
Workplace safety and performance go hand in hand – employees give optimal performance if they have a good working environment, feel safe, and are supported by management in maintaining a safe work culture.