Tips for staff engagement in dirty jobs

by Dave Collins on June 12, 2014

in Dangerous Goods,Workplace Safety



Tips for staff engagement in “dirty jobs” – does the same apply for dangerous jobs?

coffee spilling on keyboard Just came across this article on HC Online: Professional pariahs: Tips for staff engagement in “dirty jobs”.

It discusses the challenge of how to engage and motivate staff involved in “dirty jobs” like toilet cleaning, pest extermination and cemetery work, particularly when there is some kind of social stigma attached to their job. It even includes HR staff who may be viewed as “grim reapers” when they have to implement downsizing or redundancies. Also debt collectors and parking inspectors who may have members of the public take exception to them just doing their jobs.

The suggestions include the usual stuff like making them aware of their important place in society, personal appreciation from their leaders and job rotation. The article assumes that: “HR managers are often very attuned to the physical risks of jobs.  They have clear routines for identifying physical risks and responding to them.  But emotional/psychological risks also take a toll on a worker’s well-being”

I almost just read this article and closed it down and forgot about it but then the last paragraph touts the “best practices” of the British American Tobacco Company who have implemented HR initiatives including a starting salary in the top 25% of the market , above-statutory superannuation, volunteer day leave, on-site medical and massage services, wellness initiatives and a sabbatical leave policy – aaarggghh – really? – how could those initiates be of benefit to those on award wages and surely motivators like that really only work short term until the euphoria wears off and reality kicks in.

So now I would like learn how we engage and motivate people involved in hazardous or dangerous jobs as opposed to just dirty or even if we need to? i.e. is the RISK THE REWARD? or Danger Money? or Job Rotation or……………?

Kind of related to the above: I’m a big fan of the reality TV series “Dirty Jobs”. Host, Mike Rowe wrote this in response to being admonished for not wearing safety glasses (see it here) – luv it!

“Of all the platitudes automatically embraced in the workplace – and there are many – there is none more pervasive, erroneous, overused, and dangerous, than “Safety First!” in my opinion.

I have heard this slogan countless times. I have seen it emblazoned on banners, T-shirts  and hats. I have sat through mandatory briefings and slideshows and presentations designed to “protect me from the hazards at hand.” And I have listened as safety officers and foreman have run down list after list of OSHA requirements, all apparently construed to remind me that nothing is more important to the employer than my own well-being. What a load of unmitigated nonsense.

In the jobs I have seen thus far, I can tell you with certainty, that safety, while always a major consideration, is never the priority.”

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