When a person regularly gets hurt (and they’re not on a motorcycle attempting to jump over the Grand Canyon wearing a flashy jumpsuit and helmet), one can’t help but ask, “Why?” What personality traits make a person more prone to accidents? When reviewing data from ARCH Profile’s WALA (Work Accident Likelihood Assessment) we discovered some interesting statistics about accident prone people:
- 14% are unwilling to take responsibility for their own safety.
- 21% don’t check their work for mistakes.
- 23% don’t ask for guidance or help when making high-risk decisions.
- 24% believe that accidents cannot be prevented.
- 24% make decisions on impulse.
- 25% will ignore safety procedures in order to get a task done more quickly.
- 28% believe that asking others for help is a sign of weakness.
- 29% don’t create a Plan B when taking risks.
- 29% don’t take even simple precautions to prevent accidents, like wearing safety equipment.
- 30% make decisions based on what will make them look “tougher.”
- 34% have trouble paying attention, following directions, and/or finishing tasks.
- 34% believe that rules are made to be broken, including safety rules.
- 36% admit that if someone called them a “chicken” they would intentionally do something daring to prove the person wrong.
- 41% will one-up anyone who tries to one-up them.
- 43% admit that if they don’t see the point of a rule (or think it’s a dumb rule), they won’t follow it closely.
- 50% have a short attention span.
- 57% are energized by situations in which most people would be scared or stressed.
- 60% are not very detail oriented.
Ideally, the best approach to prevent work accidents would be to screen job candidates during the hiring process. There are certain personality traits that are often linked to accidents, including poor conscientiousness, a short attention span, and an unwillingness to be accountable for one’s actions. In general, however, we recommend the following tips for employees in jobs where safety is an issue:
- Be prepared for negative consequences. Being prepared to deal with consequences is one of the most important aspects of responsible risk-taking. Wise risk-takers have a plan in place for every eventuality, and a good idea about their chance for success.
- Recognize the importance of details. Learning to be more conscious of details will require a shift in your outlook; if you believe that details are unimportant you're giving yourself permission to neglect them. Take a look at some of the instances when you've ignored or skipped over small stuff, then had to deal with the consequences. The small things often do matter, and may even save your life.
- Make "check-overs" part of your routine. Develop the habit of going over a task more than once before declaring it done. It may even help to have a checklist of things to verify (e.g. check safety lock on machine), particularly if you regularly complete similar tasks.
- Remember that rules are in place for a reason. Breaking even small rules can lead to major consequences for you or for others. Even if other employees break a certain rule, set a good example and maintain your professionalism. There is NO corner cutting when it comes to safety – the consequences could be dire. With your safety and the safety of other workers on the line, the last thing you should be doing is skipping or ignoring safety procedures. Think of it this way: Would you rather spend an extra ten minutes ensuring that you’ve taken all safety precautions, or spend a lifetime regretting the disastrous results of breaking one seemingly silly rule?
- For jobs that involve physical labor, develop proper posture and lifting techniques. Always make sure to:
- When in doubt, ask a professional. This goes for professional, financial, and physical risks. If you are not trained or knowledgeable in a certain area, don't try to fake it. For example, if you’ve encountered a work problem that you have never experienced before or need to use a piece of machinery that you don’t use very often, consult a supervisor. This minimizes the potential for disaster, and provides peace of mind.
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