Over the course of eight posts and a few detours along the way, we have explore that safety behaviors can be quantified in a similar fashion as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There are reasons that are based on basic needs that demonstrate why safety cultures may be moving forward, falling behind, or remaining stationary. There are basic needs that have to be met to allow a safety culture to progress within an organization.
Maslow’s Hierarch of Needs is a good model to predict behaviors based on what need are being fulfilled. When the needs based approach is applied to only the occupational safety area there are many striking similarities. The safety behaviors of a company and be interpreted using a needs based approach. If the needs of the more basic function are not met, the behaviors will mirror and be driven to those needs. A company cannot create a good safety culture without working to assure that the basic needs are met. The most basic, largest, and more energy driven phases of the safety hierarchy are driven primarily by the company management. They have an inherent social contract with the team to first provide gainful employment and to also provide a workplace that is free of serious health and safety hazards. Without the primary needs being met, the company cannot expect safety behaviors to be changed in a meaningful and productive way. As the employees and management fill the lower tier needs and start to shape progressive behaviors, there has to be an acute cognizance of threats to the basic foundation of the pyramid. When threats are encountered, there has to be more effort to mend the foundation or acceptance of the changes in perceptions and behaviors. Overall, the needs based approach to safety delivers insight to why employees may have trouble altering or progressing safe behaviors.
Just as humans have basic needs that have to met for social progression, the world of safety if similar. When considering a company, safety is the most people oriented metric. With that being said, people in groups have social and primal needs that have to met for progression. It cannot be expected that a company can set high expectations without equally empowering their team for success.
In the next series of discussions, I am going to look at the link of programs and behaviors and how those two items can be quantified using a similar typology.