OSEA Safety Blog

The Ripple Effect of Safety, In a Nutshell

Thursday, March 7, 2019 Amanda Coniglio

We all know the song/story “On Top of Spaghetti”, where someone sneezes and the poor meatball is lost. That meatball rolled off the table and out the door. That meatball caused the growth of a tree…. that tree produced meatballs and sauce! All of this because, someone sneezed!

That’s a little version of a ripple effect with a positive impact! Ripple effect is defined as “a spreading, pervasive, and usually unintentional effect or influence” (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). When it comes to the ripple effect of workplace safety, we really need to remove the “unintentional” portion of that definition. Workplace safety needs to be intentional, the ultimate effect and influence should be planned and deliberate.

All too frequently we dissect the negative side of safety ripples; the accidents and injuries that ripple out to cause unwanted (or “unintentional”) costs, lost time, and various other negative impacts on an organization. But there is a positive side as well! A ripple effect that is caused by a proactive health and safety approach will help an organization to see a large return on investment through improved productivity, improved morale, decreased time away, lower EMRs, and lower workers compensation insurance costs-- to name a few examples.

When leadership of an organization takes an active and willing role in workplace safety, they are leading by example; they are becoming the change they’d like to see and setting a “ripple” into motion. That example becomes likely to be emulated by workers. Workers willingly performing their work safely influences their peers to do the same. Working safely in the workplace can also continue rippling into a worker’s home life which can have a positive impact on days away.

An organization that values safe work practices, encourages the use of safe work practices, and mandates the use of safe work practices ultimately improves their safety posture, sometimes even gaining national recognition through the various safety awards out there. So, the ripple continues outside of the organization and through that particular industry and become a model for other organizations. All because somebody sneezed…… or rather, started a “little” ripple!

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