The Heirarchy of Safety Needs. Part 3

There is much effort and time that goes into building the base of the pyramid but for good reason. For the process to be layered upon, the bottom sections have to be strong and stable. The bottom of the pyramid is the largest in area, holds the majority of the weight, and creates stability for the next steps. As the pyramid is being build, any flaws in the lower sections jeopardizes the work of the behaviors above it. Before taking the next steps, it must be assured that the current layer and the layers below are stable and secure. Cultural and behavioral change takes time. The process cannot be rushed because any uncertainty will eventually be felt through eroding of need based behaviors. For example, take a site has progressed from basic safety programs to creating team based approaches and committees The process is working well, and the teams are starting to make some dramatic changes in the site behaviors. Suddenly, market conditions change and the plant is potentially faced with a layoff. The base of the pyramid has been dealt a staggering blow. People are not as focused on safety, much less the safety committee. They are now focused on how they will keep or find another job. In times of uncertain economics, people will seek what they perceive as certain. They are seeking stability based on needs. The needs of the employees revert to a lower level of the hierarchy because that need was no longer fulfilled. An event such as an economic downturn is out of the control of the safety professional, but it serves as an example of how when a more basic need is a not met a person will return to the lowest unfulfilled need. The culture and behaviors of the team will reside with the lowest stable tier of the pyramid.

Published by Dr. Mark A. French

Husband, Father, Safety Professional, I/O Psychologist, Golfer, and Geek. BS from Murray State University (Chemistry and Occupational Safety). MBA from Bethel University. PhD in I/O Psychology from Capella University.

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