Safety in the workplaceHaving worked for several contractors over the years and then working for a consulting company I must say things seem very different.

With the consultant work I often get asked to review policies and procedures. One of the biggest questions that come up when I am working with the return to work policy is if it covers off the areas needed. I have to say yes it looks good on that paper but means nothing to the injured worker. The policy always says if you get hurt on our job we will look after you and get you back to work as quick as we can.

Talking with management they say we need you at work, so we want you back. Having worked with a few people over the course of years I have found that is not a very true statement.

One person was hurt on a job site over 10 years ago and has never worked for the company again, despite putting in several resumes for jobs that were the same as they were doing before and being told you do not have the experience we need. Another recent one a worker was hurt 2 years ago and was told you will never work for us again. When the employee asked about this, they were told we do not have anything stating that in our records. This employee has also put several resumes in to do the same work as they were doing before and gets the same reply. You do not have the experience.

I guess the person that was injured at work in both of these cases lost experience when they got hurt. Or just maybe they didn’t have the ZERO HARM safety in their best interest and that is why they were injured.

I would bet if you talked to these workers none of them woke up on that day and said I am going into work today and hurt myself, but it happened.

Some of these big companies out there should wake up and do what they say they will do. If you say you will look after your people, then do it. Do not have a policy that you can not or will not follow.

Maybe your ZERO HARM policy should state if you get hurt on one of our jobs then we will close our business because we failed at ZERO HARM, we did not protect you as we said we would. After all ZERO HARM is about being perfect right?

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6 Replies to “WE NEED YOU BACK?”

  1. I did work with an insurance company working with long term injured people. The evidence shows that after 6-9 months that the long term injured develop duel and multiple presenting problems in addition to the additional injury. This makes it nearly impossible for them to get back to work. The associated psychological and mental health issues that develop from long term injury are huge and are often related to extensive need for medications and associated dependencies.
    I developed a special Program for this group of people based on Social Psychology called WorkAssist and after 12 months was only able to get 30% back to work. The insurance comp[any were delighted with the result but axed the program because of costs.

  2. Thanks Rob for the comment. I can and do understand the long term effect that can happen. It is a shame that the program was axed do to cost. That kind of reassures the injured worker is not that important.

  3. I think those who get hurt at work are also those who have internalized work stressors. Companies often take a disliking to someone and it makes it easy to push them out once they are injured. It also makes it easier to get hurt when you feel disliked at work. Sometimes it’s just an accident, but sometimes it’s difficult to separate the physical incident from the social environment.

  4. Of course when the language is ‘safety is a choice you make’ then unsafety must be your choice. This makes it much more easier to demonize the person and marginalise them. It doesn’t take very long away from work to be treated like an alien and trouble maker. Of course, this kind of brutalism is at its best in zero harm organisations. The ideology of zero creates a discourse of intolerance and when the long term injured develop secondary psychoses they get quickly demonsised. When I ran the WorkAssist Program for Alliance Insurance Australia, this was demonstrated over and over again. In the end the only question became, ‘how can we get this ‘problem’ off our books?’ and ‘how much will it cost to get this ‘problem’ off our books?’

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