It’s a workplace cliché that’s still used because it’s true: Worker safety is everyone’s responsibility.
So what do you do if a coworker is acting in an unsafe manner? What’s the best way to address the situation without putting yourself in danger or creating an awkward situation?
Here are a few dos and don’ts for navigating this tricky landscape:
Try to be reasonable.
Sometimes people don’t follow proper safety procedures — closing cupboard doors, putting away electrical cords, wiping up spills, etc. — because they’re rushing from one thing to another. Other times it’s simply a matter of forgetting or not noticing a problem. If someone usually works alone in their own area, their safety standards might get a little lax because it’s “just them,” and they don’t need to worry about anyone else. These might be little bad habits that could use correcting rather than malicious mistakes. Try just pointing out the error or the risk and see how they respond. If they understood the danger, they could’ve put someone in and apologized for it, clearly, this isn’t a big problem in the works.
If things start happening more often, it could be worth elevating.
After the first friendly reminder, if those same oversights keep happening, it might be time to go to a supervisor. This is not done in judgment — maybe your coworker is going through a tough time at home or is having other issues that people don’t know about. But if conditions continue to be problematic and the risk increases for others being hurt, it’s time to get a supervisor involved so the point can be made more clearly: No one is above safety regulations.
Don’t forget to lead by example.
If you’re seeing people make mistakes, more than just one little thing here or there, make sure you’re doing the right things before you call everyone out. Are you always properly disposing of your trash? Do you always put equipment back in the right spot and secure it correctly? Are you washing your hands enough during the day? Do you clean up after yourself? Pointing out other people’s mistakes will come back to haunt you if you’re not following the rules yourself.
Sometimes things fall by the wayside because work gets busy. It happens! But it takes so little for one careless mistake, no matter how small, to create a big problem. It’s also a good practice for busy workplaces where safety hazards are common to implement regular refresher training from time to time to make sure everyone is on the same page.
If time passes and you start to feel unsafe at work, it might indicate you need to move on. Have you considered changing jobs but don’t know where to start? Debbie’s Staffing can help! Take a look at our job boards and see what positions are open, or call and talk with one of our staffing experts to see how you can make a change to a safer life. Call Debbie’s Staffing today!