Prevention culture instead of occupational safety culture: communication as a key competence


'Conduct Risk Discussions Appropriately'

... under this title, a cross-hierarchy workshop was held at the KWF e.V. in Groß-Umstadt at the beginning of December 2018 for employees of forestry companies, forestry administrations and forestry entrepreneurs as well as for occupational safety specialists. This is a workshop for all concerned with prevention, occupational safety, risk assessment and analysis of accident courses, near-misses and their critical work-up.

Efforts to further reduce the number of accidents in forest work are still omnipresent. The forest work still counts to the most accident-prone activities today. Up to now, the focus of preventive measures - in addition to the improvement of technical features of work equipment, implements and personal protective equipment - has primarily been qualifications that enable and motivate forest workers to use modern methods in harvesting and wood harvesting. Despite all efforts in these directions, however, the number of accidents stagnates at an intolerable level. Here, the question pushes into the room, what approaches there are in addition to the above, in order to significantly reduce the accident in forestry work in the future. If it is neither work equipment, tools nor procedures, then finally the person and, as he ticks' moves in the focus: So what moves people to behave safely out of their own motivation? What motivates this motivation? And what culture is needed in a company that promotes exactly that? What distinguishes a safety culture from a safety or prevention culture? What role does individual risk competence and the way of dealing with each other play?


Occupational safety culture vs prevention culture
If one looks at the previous efforts to make work safe, it is noticeable that about 90% of the energy used is used to recognize risks, address them, address accidents and injuries, consistently deal with unsafe behaviors, and constantly assign people to risks sensitize and draw attention to mistakes. The remaining 10% are based on recognizing, maintaining and enhancing existing, safe behavior, continuing to work safely, dealing with occupational safety, recognizing and appreciating safe behavior and safe states, and demonstrating that occupational safety is one of the most important values and it is worthwhile to participate. This requires specific competences - namely, communicative and personal - and is therefore a question of good leadership. The essential, motivating drive motors in human interaction are appreciation, recognition and respect. By what means and how can one express appreciation and esteem towards an employee as a manager in the field of occupational safety? Do you spontaneously come up with ten options? Appreciation and appreciation are more than just praise.

Abb Taglieber

Respecful communication eyer level
A clear and appreciative communication is the basis and starting point for the change from the prevailing occupational safety culture to a modern and effective prevention culture. (see picture on the left). Or in other words: to arrive at a change of attitude and thus a change of attitude among executives and employees. Appreciative communication as the basis of a culture of prevention and competently conducted discussions that break down barriers and create a common basis for communication need practice. Dirk Taglieber impressively explained this at the workshop. How difficult it is to get away from 'habitual' communication, e.g. in traditional criticism talks on appreciative communication in the so-called security talks, umzuschalten ', showed the practical part of the workshop. The task was to assess a harvesting activity in an older beech stock and to reflect it in a safety discussion (focus on safe behavior) with regard to aspects of occupational safety appropriate to communication psychology with the foresters.

Competent risk management
Foresters (with individual risk-affinity) always take risks at work. Traditional risk management measures such as training, annual safety briefings, hazard assessments or simply prohibitions are seamlessly aligned with the above mentioned 90% on. How well such prohibitions work is known from the road. Hardly anyone stops, for example at speed limits. People will always take risks and employees will always disregard rules. Why? Because it has benefits: emotional, rational, psychological and physiological. Regulation in response to dangers alone is therefore not enough. In addition, work in the forest usually takes place 'unobserved' and therefore must be built on a high level of self-motivation and risk competence of foresters. Risk assessments, risk analyzes and competent risk management (perceiving and evaluating risk, weighing alternative actions, acting, evaluating consequences) are the key to this, as Henrik Habenicht from the University of Jena explained.


If the number of accidents in the forestry sector is to be permanently reduced in the future, then the change from a traditional occupational safety culture based on risk compensation to a prevention culture that takes into account far more psychological and sociological aspects than has hitherto been done in the context of occupational safety. In addition to the promotion of individual risk competence among foresters, this particularly includes the development of an appreciative leadership and communication culture as a fundamental basis for this change.

Dr. Andrea Teutenberg, Dr. Edgar Kastenholz, Joachim Morat, KWF e.V.

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