Consumer Trends, Trust and the Risk to Safety Outcomes

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Does Trust Correlate with Safety Performance for Workers

Back in September 2020 we asked whether trust correlates with safety performance. That is, do countries with higher levels of trust have better safety performance than countries with lower trust levels? Is there correlation? If so, is there causation?

What we showed was the trust data across 10 European countries and their corresponding standardised incidence rates which indicated correlation between higher trust and better safety performance.

Trust in institutionsFatal Injury at Work

But what about causation? We posited that a lack of trust leads to more rules and that, applying The Peltzman Effect or Sidney Dekker’s Safety Differently, those rules can lead to more risky behaviour and worse safety outcomes. We looked at two aspects of ‘rules’ that each correlated with safety performance (more rules, worse safety outcomes).

There is definitely correlation and, while causation remains unproven, strong anecdotal support for a Safety Differently approach.

So, why revisit this analysis now? Euromonitor International have recently released their Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021 report which is always interesting reading to provide context and insights into those trends that will impact how we do business.

One of the trends is ‘Restless and Rebellious’ which states that, “Consumers are fed up. Distrust in leadership has become the norm”. Further, that “People are more cynical of governments and politics, giving rise to the Restless and Rebellious. Only 17% of Americans say they can trust the government; in Chile, it is a meagre 5%”.

While it is tempting to think of consumers as a separate group of people who buy from businesses, it is actually us, all of us. As a working population this dramatic loss of trust (and we can’t deny a massive increase in [other] rules) could lead to a fall in safety performance. Is it possible that workers’ falling trust and general tiring of [other] rules could lead to a circumventing of safety policies and procedures in the workplace that hitherto they have happily adhered to?

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

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