Emotional Intelligence and Safety

Safety leaders are strong in technical skills — hazard assessment, risk management and safety controls — but soft skills can vary widely. In fact, a common question raised in many safety workshops is “How can I get the employees to take the time to practice safety on the job?” Consider looking beyond the technical — the tool box talks, workshops and safety videos — and consider the people skills. Recognize how human beings are wired.

Employees are human beings and are therefore naturally wired, and often trained, to work quickly and compete. The inclination toward speed and production can easily trump working safely.

Emotional Intelligence training teaches safety leaders to recognize that the human brain is wired for both emotion and logic. Production equals stress — and emotions push us to speed things up. The goal of this type of training is an employee achieving the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses. Self-regulation and self-awareness is the learning to think before acting.

An example is Lock Out Tag Out — an essential safety regulation. When an employee’s emotions are saying that properly locking out equipment takes too long and requires too much downtime, safety is jeopardized.  With the pressure of daily production goals and maximizing efficiency, lockout/tagout can often seem like an unnecessary obstacle.

It is a safety leader’s job to encourage employees to slow it down, keep emotions in check. They are responsible for making it possible for workers to use a proper safety procedure and encouraging them to use it every time.

By gaining insight into one’s ability to stay in control and developing the right type of thought processes and behaviors in response to stress, employees can learn to effectively manage their emotions while on the job. This means working safely.