Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The role of motivation

I was rather horrified at comments made by someone at the IOSH Hazardous Industries specialist group meeting on 13 Feb 2007.

This person is very senior in an organisation and ex-HSE. He said that the number of slip/trip/fall accidents on site suddenly started to increase. There had been talk about changes to company ownership and pension arrangements, and so morale was low. This was considered to be the cause of increased accident rate. Departmental managers went to speak to their staff to "explain what is expected of them." He reported that the number of accidents then fell.

I have a number of problems with this. The first is, I am not aware of poor morale being a significant cause of slip/trip/fall type accidents. I can see that people may be a bit distracted so it may have some influence, but I would expect this to be minor. However, I am sure that morale has a very big influence on whether people will come to work when injured (if you are fed up at work, any excuse to stay off is welcomed) and report accidents (with an eye to a claim). Also, if morale was the cause how could the managers message that staff are expected to pay attention to what they are doing have an impact on the cause?

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