In Safety Briefing No. 2, we discussed four ways of helping ourselves and others to overcome the fear factor. We also highlighted how to develop more courage for safety. In this Safety Briefing, we will look at another seven suggestions that follow on from the four in my previous post.
5. Set the example
Make a point of following the rules and tell people you are following the rules. For example, “I’d like to get this finished before lunch but if I hurry, I’ll probably hurt myself. To be safe we better leave it until after lunch“. A corny example, but you get the point. Praise people if they catch you not following the rules. Make opportunities to stop jobs – especially when it costs money. Then broadcast as widely and as often as possible that you HAVE STOPPED the job. Actions count more than words.
6. Watch the way you speak to people
People will do just about anything to avoid looking stupid or feeling belittled. So, if a supervisor’s or manager’s style (not yours, of course!) is to shout, criticise or mock in public, people will not own up that they don’t understand. They will also
7. Give positive reinforcement all the time
Make the mental effort to remember to praise people as much as possible for stopping jobs and bringing up ideas for even safer working. Never shoot down an idea for safety. If a suggestion is not practical, say something like, “Thanks, George. It’s good that you raise these safety ideas – let’s think about that a bit“. Then later explain carefully with good reasons why you’re not implementing it. Keep saying things like the following to your team: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question – thanks for raising it“. And “There’s no such thing as a wrong stop – all stops are good“.
8. Think before you react
When you hear of a job being delayed or a piece of machinery breaking, it is natural and easy to show your anger and frustration. However, make sure the people around you know it’s NOT them you are angry with.
9. Avoid threatening people being fired!
I know the “olden days” are gone and no one is openly threatened in this way. However, about 5 out of 100 people who attend my workshops say they’re still worried about losing their jobs if they push for safety. This fear is still strong with contracting personnel. We have to do more to explain to people that their fear is ungrounded. So, don’t even joke about “There’s no barbed wire on the factory gate” or “a hundred people would be grateful for this job”
10. Show that you will support people
If, unfortunately, a safety disagreement gets serious and eventually reaches your desk, show people that you treat it seriously and that you’ll take action. As you know, this requires very sensitive handling. If the employee is right, you don’t want the supervisor to lose face. Make it look as if you’ve given the supervisor information that he/she didn’t have before. So it’s not backing down. It’s an adjustment.
11. Coach your supervisors
If you’re a manager, take the time to coach your junior managers and supervisors in the leadership skills that reduce fear in others. As you know, supervisors are good people and they get the job done. Use the material in this Safety Briefing in informal discussions.
As always, your feedback is very welcome. Any topics you’d like covered in future Safety Briefings?