Routine Violations in Health & Safety
A routine violation of one or more of the health and safety rules imposed by either legislation or by management can occur for a number of reasons, and is an issue which is covered in the health and safety management systems element of NEBOSH General Certificate courses. These routine violations are usually a result of the prevailing health and safety culture of the particular organisation, as they become the normal way of working amongst employees.
One of the major causes of health and safety violations is the pressure felt by employees to achieve targets. In many instances the health and safety procedures required to safeguard workers can often involve additional time, for example to put on personal protective equipment or fill in permit to work sheets, and so it can be extremely tempting for workers to bypass these safety measures and go straight into the task. Management will play a key role in this situation, either directly or indirectly. They may indirectly apply pressure by setting these targets and then not monitoring the effect it has on the activities of workers with regards to health and safety. Even worse, they may directly create the culture of violating health and safety regulations by instructing workers to flout the rules in order to get the job done quicker or more cheaply.
The urge to get tasks completed quicker and/or as inexpensive as possible, whether it comes as an instruction from management or not, is not the only reason for routine violations of safety rules. Without effective monitoring, workers may break the rules for no other reason than it is fun, for example driving vehicles at excessive speed, or through laziness at not being bothered to work through a safety checklist.
One of the key themes in many health and safety courses including the NEBOSH General Certificate is the importance that management have in implementing and enforcing health and safety rules within their workplace. Even if they have done everything such as performing risk assessments, creating policies, providing health and safety training to employees and communicating procedures, if they do not rigorously enforce the rules then many workers, particularly new starters, will begin to think that they no longer apply or are not meant to be taken seriously, so will not comply with them. If this happens they not only put themselves at risk, but also the lives of everyone around them as well potentially.