Not all work environments are created equal. And, unfortunately, despite laws and regulations, some companies take safety more seriously than others.
As an individual employee, you may believe there is little you can do to change an unsafe situation. However, you may have more influence than you realize.
Use these four tips to have meaningful conversations with both co-workers and managers and to improve safety from the bottom up.
Workers give a variety of reasons for not reporting safety violations: “It’s not my job,” “No one will listen to me,” or “I might get in trouble.” Nevertheless, studies show about 25 percent of people will report hazards regardless of organizational standards. And when they do report, 63 percent of the time they create a safer situation. Standing up and being brave can be scary. But, don’t you owe it to yourself and everyone else in the company? Take the first step and speak your concerns to one person or two or three. You may be surprised who will follow your lead.
Give Useful Feedback
When we see dangerous activities, it’s easy to criticize with statements like “What are you thinking?” or “How stupid are you?” Obviously, this is not the best way to build relationships. First, look for the positive. If you see someone putting safety first, thank them. Next, address unsafe situations by focusing on the action rather than attacking the person. Avoid insults, personal attacks and threatening body language. Let your co-workers know you are concerned for their safety and offer to help them correct the situation.
Set a Good Example
If you truly want to earn the respect of your fellow employees, you must talk the talk and walk the walk. This is easier said than done. Start by following three basic rules. 1) Take safety seriously in your own work. Steer clear of shortcuts. 2) Support your co-workers. If they bring an issue to your attention, listen to their concerns and aid them with proper reporting. 3) Be open to correction. No one is perfect. If someone points out something YOU are doing wrong, don’t brush it off or become defensive. Think about taking their advice.
Facts and figures are sobering. According to OHSA, 14 workers were killed on the job each day in 2016. But, they also are easy to rationalize. “That will never happen to me.” Stories can be a more powerful way to show the negative effects of carelessness. Give examples of people you know or people from your industry who were involved in workplace tragedies. Emphasize that accidents can happen to anyone, and by working together as a team, you can help to protect everyone.
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