If you saw your colleague working unsafely would you be comfortable approaching them?
In our training workshops, we ask this question.
Over the last 3 years we have asked the question to approximately 2,600 employees. All are working in diverse industries and their responses are:
Four in ten are comfortable making an approach.
Four in ten are NOT comfortable making an approach
Two in ten say “IT DEPENDS”
All employees must do their part. Sometimes though, co-workers decide to cut corners, get in a hurry, feel distracted or otherwise neglect safety protocols. A recent study found that only 40 percent of employees intervened (which backs up our findings) when they notice safety concerns because they feared that their fellow worker would be defensive or angry or that intervening would not make a difference. While you may not want to be a whistle-blower you owe it to yourself, your colleagues, customers and clients and the company itself to maintain safety.
Below I outline the steps you can take when you notice co-workers acting in an unsafe manner.
We need to provide all staff with the right techniques, tips and confidence to make an approach. More importantly, they should feel empowered to do so!
Identify and Solve the Inducing Factors:
In general, safety violations occur for four reasons. Understanding why your fellow employees violate safety standards can guide you in addressing the underlying issues.
1. Personal Perception – Fellow workers may think they don’t need to follow safety precautions because their job is low-risk, the precautions are uncomfortable or they don’t have time. In this case, encourage your colleagues to maintain safety so they avoid injuries and model good behaviour.
2. Mental Lapses – Forgetfulness, preoccupation or uncertainty may cause your co-workers to commit safety violations. A gentle reminder can correct the mistake.
3. Abilities – Your co-workers may act unsafely because they have improper tools, unrealistic expectations, or other challenges. Offer insights into ways to overcome these safety risks.
4. Social Environment – Pressure to conform or fit in may prompt workers to neglect safety precautions. Encourage your co-workers to remain independent and do the right thing regardless of anyone else’s mindset.
Speak to the Person in Private:
When you see a colleague breaking a safety procedure or otherwise acting unsafely, talk to that person in private. Approach them with kindness and understanding rather than accusations as you request that he or she maintains a safe work environment for the sake of everyone.
Inform Your Supervisor:
If your colleague refuses to listen to you and the unsafe behaviour continues, talk with your supervisor. Share details such as the offender, dates, times, and incidents. The supervisor can then follow-up and schedule more frequent walkabouts, increase safety discussions or take other appropriate actions.
Practice Safety Procedures:
Always model safety on the job site and do your part to maintain safe conditions. That means you must wear safety gear, pay attention to your surroundings and operate equipment properly.
You should also participate enthusiastically in safety meetings and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Take the presentation seriously as you promote a organisational culture that emphasises safety.
Workplace safety protects everyone and reduces injuries and illnesses.
Do your part.
Remember to speak to people, how you would like to be spoken to!
If you would like to know more about the ‘Deal with It’® safety programme, and how we can train and coach your staff, please contact us on
01928 515977 or 07713 684850