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Empower Employees for a Safer Environment

North Dakota State professor finds that feedback is key to constructing a strong safety culture

Dr. Erick Hanson, North Dakota State assistant professor of agribusiness and applied economics, presented his research findings on safety culture to attendees of the 2018 Grain Elevator and Processing Society Exchange on Monday in Denver, CO.

Hanson explained that there are many reasons why employee safety matters and both younger and older employees are affected by injury depending on how the specific age demographic and injury is viewed. He said that some may view older employees as less resilient to injury and find that they may have picked up bad safety habits while on the job. Others may view younger employees as reckless and not knowledgeable about certain safety habits because of the short time they have been in the workforce.

While his findings are not new to those in the industry, Hanson found that agribusiness retailers are relatively dangerous and their safety performance lags compared to other industries. Even more injuries occur during busy seasons, either during plantings or harvests.

Additionally, Hanson’s main finding was that safety culture comes down to empowerment – how much an employee wants to act given the resources they have to act safely. Operations that have strong safety cultures not only have the motive and resources to act safe, but also commitment to safety from management and employees. This commitment comes from open lines of communication and feedback.

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