Safety a Basic Need!

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology proposed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in the journal Psychological Review.  Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. The theory is a classification system intended to reflect the universal needs of society as its base, then proceeding to more acquired emotions.

Moreover, the hierarchy of needs is used to study how humans intrinsically partake in behavioral motivation. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "belonging and love", "social needs" or "esteem", "self-actualization”, and "transcendence" to describe the pattern through which human needs and motivations generally move. This means that, according to the theory, for motivation to arise at the next stage, each prior stage must be satisfied by an individual. The hierarchy has been used to explain how effort and motivation are correlated in the context of human behavior.


It is basic human nature for an individual to want to livetheir life, provide for their family while supporting their loved ones with joyand happiness.  Once a person'sphysiological needs are satisfied, their safety needs take precedence anddominate their behavior.  

Working adults are not immune to the need of safety.  It includes shelter, job security, health,and safe environments. If a person does not feel safe in an environment, theywill seek safety before attempting to meet any higher level of survival. Thereare basic laws under the Federal OSHA act that prohibits companies from havingunsafe work environments.  Remember noone in their right mind wants to injure themselves.  Many times, the reality of an injury free,zero harm safety first culture is not exemplified and cascades into a downwardtrend of what employees expect versus what they get from the culture.  What causes a workplace injury? Many wouldsay its due to an unsafe act or unsafe condition. Yet there is another cause andthat is unsafe expectations.  

What are Unsafe Employee Expectations

Unsafe Employee expectations include having incorrect assumptions,anticipations, and behaviors that are representative of unsafe actions. When anemployee receives what they expect from their employer, they usually feel valued,and this is true when the safety culture is as anticipated.  Conversely, when an employee doesn’t feel theirvalue, this begins the trickling of unsafe behaviors.  These Behaviors are displayed as inconsistentemployee actions which are manifested as incidents and injuries.  Both, lack of training and the lack of adherenceto work rules result in injuries such as amputations, musculoskeletal injuries,slips, falls and fatalities.

Within the first days of hiring, critical safety informationmust be effectively communicated to the new employee.  It is the management team’s responsibility toclearly manage the employee expectations of Safety. The overall expectationincludes everyone at all levels of the organization being responsible to followall safety and health guidelines.  

As expectations increase so must the leadership transparenciesregarding the nature of the job safety, certain environmental hazards, requiredPersonal protective equipment and responsibilities of the management team toaddress identified safety issues.   Employee morale rises when employees have aclear understanding of what to expect from their company. When there is a high moralsafety compass these morals lead to greater team unity, enhanced safety focus andincident reductions.  Unsafe expectationsfrom employees have some obviously dangerous consequences which include employee’slosing their own self-confidence to the point they began to violate rules, takedangerous shortcuts, and have a general lack of confidence in the company’scommitment to safety.  

The existence of a positive Safety Culture can result inmiraculous changes in an organization. This cultural fit of safety minimizesthe likelihood of unsafe employee expectations. A positive culture will motivate employees to perform and achieve theorganization’s objectives. A toxic culture, on the other hand, can lead to lowemployee morale, which leads to low employee retention and high employeeturnover.  Culture is the organization’spersonality.  As a result, establishingcore company safety values will keep everyone on the same page which is vitalto thriving safety performances.

Start or enhance your new employee orientations with a few bestpractices that will inform your teams about your safety morals, critical worksafety rules, employee responsibilities and required Personal ProtectiveEquipment (PPE). The next discussion will take a deeper dive into what isrequired to assure that an employee has the proper knowledge to safely performtheir work task.  But, right now let'sjust look at it from the standpoint of have I provided my employees with the correctcommunication and knowledge indoctrinating them to the importance of safety andthe company culture.  Below you will findessential basic PPE that can be ordered from Amazon which fits various workenvironments.  

NOTE:  An Active SafetyCulture Eliminates Unsafe Expectations and The Injuries That May Follow.

Safety orientation and proper PPE is critical for a fresh start in Safety.