The Hierarchy of Safety Needs, Part 4

To recap the needs based safety theory so far: 1) Safety is a needs based behavior 2) Before an organization can progress to the next need, the previous one has to be fully realized 3) The process is: Gainful Employment, Personal Safety, Team Work, Recognition, Continuous Improvement. 4) The previous posts have: discussed the theory and promoted personal safety. This post is in regards to creating a team based safety culture.


This phase is marked by a behavior that is more inherently concerned with the “we” rather than the “me.” The individual first has to feel personally safe before he can look to his team member and have concern for them also. In this phase of the behaviors approach, safety committees can start to realize their full potential. The lower needs have been fulfilled, and the individuals can start to become more socially aware of safety. The goals are for the groups to begin to identify issues and work together to avoid injury. The social process of safety is simply an approach that is broadened beyond the individual. It will be a process of where the work group will share safety items, be aware of hazards to the group, and work together to improve the environment. The goal is to encourage the teams to self-develop and empower them to solve problems along with progressing safety.

A key management behavior in this phase is to conduct technical training. This is so the teams understand the safety regulations and programs the implement those laws. For the team to be effective, they have to understand the end of goal of not only meeting but exceeding the safety regulations. They cannot be expected to accomplish this task without some technical training on the relevant regulations. The team will also need some training on what it means to be a functional team. This would include fostering team work, listening skills, and facilitation workshops. The team has to function singly with and have the interpersonal skills to support one another.

A critical component of this phase is open and honest communication between the company and the committees. It is the company’s responsibility to assure that the committees understand the constraints of the business. The scope of the work has to be set to that items such as time, resources, and money are defined. There is no reality of having unlimited of any of those three. On the other hand, it is the company’s responsibility to assure that those items that can be corrected are accepted with the utmost importance. Quick wins should be implemented with speed and longer projects should be tracked with milestones being publicized. The two way street of implementation and communication between the company and the employees start to emerge, grow, and take on life. Overall, this is a phase where team work among the individuals and between the company and employees starts to bloom.

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