Resistance to change in OHS

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Although it seems that it has nothing to do with the topic, the best thing is to start with what made me write this blog.

The last time I taught a class on Manual Load Handling, I found the most surprising comments to date in the quality survey:

“It is all very nice but it is all a lie”


Which made me think about what might motivate the worker to reach this conclusion.

Obviously it wasn’t because he thought that the manual load handling techniques were wrong or the potential injuries that can be suffered.

This led me to ponder on the comments received in other classes on this subject, and a huge percentage were of this type: “I’d like to see if you could do a squat”, or “of course, I have to unload a whole truck and I am going to train with posture”. In short, the most likely motivation for the comment is orientated to a resistance to change generated by the contribution of new ideas.

So it’s that; as the saying goes “The only change that humans like is leaving behind the nappy.” We all have our comfort zone, where we feel safe and, interestingly, where we perform unsafe acts that give us more confidence. Therefore, when we face change, we give excuses like “it’s always been done that way”, “what nonsense” or “yes, but …”.

Resistencia al cambio

That is why to effectively carry out safety it is necessary to generate a change in the attitude of the workers. To accomplish this, we have to go through four stages which broadly include:

  • Activation: Stimulate the individual to generate a response to the message of change, positive or negative.
  • Personalization: Get the individual to identify with the new attitude.
  • Change itself: Get the individual to assume the new attitudes and apply them.
  • Consolidation: Keep the new attitude throughout time.

It is actually a change that requires time, effort, extensive commitment, especially by management and, once achieved, our guard must not be let down and we must strengthen it.

We as safety technicians must be the catalysts in this change; after the initial training, which will activate the workers, with their participation we must involve them in the assumption of the new attitudes, give them reasons for change and provide the tools to carry it out and accompany them in the new stage.


As reflected in the video, it is not an easy task, but exciting and, therefore, the way to reduce accidents. At least, the student that motivated this post is, though negatively, activated.




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