Concept Of “Cause and Effect” & How It Applies To Safety Accountability
What is a Consequence?
A “consequence” is anything that occurs as a result of something that happens. Another way to express it is to think it in terms of cause and effect: the initial behavior is the “cause” and the consequence is the “effect.” For every cause, there is an effect. The effect may be something that affects you internally, externally, or both.
In each example below, the initial behavior or action is the cause: the reaction or response is the effect or consequence. Let’s look at some examples:
- You don’t pay attention when pounding a nail (cause), SO you hit your thumb with the hammer, and it hurts. (effect)
- You don’t think safety is important, SO you get injured taking an unsafe shortcut on the job.
- Your supervisor sees you take an unsafe shortcut, SO he gives you a written warning.
Is there any escape from consequences?
Not in the workplace. It’s important to understand there is no such thing as “no consequence” for an action. You cannot NOT have a consequence. For instance, if a supervisor thanks a worker for making a safety suggestion, the supervisor’s recognition is a consequence (positive). If the supervisor ignores the worker who made the safety suggestion, the “act” of ignoring is also a consequence (negative).
Effective consequences increase desired behaviors or decrease undesired behaviors.
If employee safety performance meets or exceeds the standards set by the employer, you know consequences are effective. When employees meet or exceed performance standards, some sort of positive recognition should follow. On the other hand, if employees make informed choices not to comply with the company’s safety performance standards, some sort of appropriate corrective action should follow. Every cause has an effect.