On Wednesday 22 May, we organized a workshop on time pressure and the effect on quality and safety. Time pressure can have a major impact on quality and safety, which can lead to serious accidents. In most cases where odd jobs have to be completed quickly, there is stress, as a result of which employees no longer think clearly and end up in unsafe situations.
How can we teach people to deal with time pressure and not to start with an unsafe situation? This happens in all industries, whether you work in construction or in a production company. The business must run, but not at all costs. In this post I will give you a good overview of the topics discussed.
What Is Time Pressure?
Time pressure can arise during work when a large or too complex job has to be done within a certain time frame. For example, a person might feel under pressure if the demands of their job (such as hours or responsibilities) are greater than they can comfortably manage. Time pressure is a part (or cause) of work-related stress. This often results in accidents, absenteeism, or quality problems.
How Time Pressure Is Related to Accidents
Time pressure is often the cause of accidents in the workplace. A number of common examples of how time pressure can lead to accidents are:
- The production must be finished in time in order to achieve the quality objectives and to keep top management satisfied.
- Wrong materials that are not intended for this purpose are used to complete a job on time.
- Signals about unsafe working are not picked up with the associated risks.
The Importance of a Safety Culture
To deal with time pressure, it’s crucial to have an overall safety culture in place. Employees must have a shared vision when it comes to safety. Make sure to create an environment in which safety topics are negotiable. It’s key that all employees have faith in each other at all levels of the organization, in particular, top management. Teach me how to build a safety culture in 6 easy steps. Also, make sure people feel comfortable enough to speak out when they feel stressed. This openness is an absolute must if the company wants to reduce stress.
Furthermore, it is important that management provides funds for these topics. The safety department needs time and money to come up with improvement plans when things go wrong, or rather, before things go wrong. It is always cheaper to prevent than to cure.
Good collaboration between contractors and clients is crucial to prevent time pressure. The following points apply to both contractors and clients:
- Take enough time to take up an assignment; don’t create your own pitfall!
2. Make clear agreements about safety (what are your rights and obligations?).
3. It’s better to ask too many difficult questions than get one after an incident!
4. Investigate each incident together in detail.
Last but not least, celebrating success is vital. Reward employees for reporting incidents to encourage reporting rather than hiding issues. Therefore, start by celebrating achievements, such as a successful intervention or a toolbox meeting, to help promote long-term success. Also try to avoid sanctions, but be satisfied as long as your employees want to learn from their mistakes.
The workshop was full of practical examples, so that those present could easily relate to the situation. In addition, the presentation contained useful tips to prevent time pressure and the consequences that you may have if you do not. Thanks again to Gerard Beijkirck for sharing his experience and giving the presentation!