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How to have a safety chat at work

Most people don’t anticipate that they’ll be injured when they show up to work each day. However, even the most low-risk workplace can be the scene of a significant accident or injury. While employers are responsible for providing the correct training and a safe workplace, it’s everyone's responsibility to ensure that we return home safely at the end of the workday.

As well as managing your own risks, such as adhering to safety protocols and maintaining your work area, it’s also important to keep a safe watch over your colleagues. It can be a difficult situation when you see a colleague behaving in an unsafe manner, so what should you do?

Be a role model

Before you even utter a word, the best way to promote safe practices in the workplace is to make sure you’re being a role model. It will be difficult for employees or colleagues to take you seriously when it comes to safety if you’re not behaving as you should and in a safe manner. If you’re not wearing your safety gear, your workmate may not take kindly to you telling them to do so. Also, always ensure you’re enthusiastic and diligent about safety training to highlight how seriously you take it.

Go to the top

Examine some of the reasons why your workmate may not be acting safely, could it simply be because they haven’t received the correct training or don’t have access to the right equipment? In this case, it may be wise to speak directly with your manager or HR department to get to the bottom of the issue.

From their perspective

It’s important to think about why your workmate isn’t taking safety seriously. Do they just think they’re not at risk, are they daydreaming, is it the culture that safety is seen as a ‘joke’ or not important, or are they just not aware? The reasons why can help you decide the best approach to having a chat to them about the safety concerns.

  • Low-risk employment: Just because you sit behind a desk, doesn’t mean that you can’t be injured. Leaving boxes or clutter around a work area is just one situation that can cause a significant injury. Slip, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. A simple gentle reminder to colleagues may be all it takes to help them change their ways.
  • Mental lapse: We’ve all been guilty of having a mental lapse or daydreaming in the middle of a task, but unfortunately a small mental lapse can be the cause of a serious accident or injury. If you notice a colleague’s mind wandering while performing a task, it may just take a kind word to bring them back to focus. If it’s something that happens regularly, it may be a sign for a deeper concern.
  • Feeling unwell: If someone is physically or mentally unwell, this can impact their ability to determine safe situations. If you suspect this may be the case, check in with them and ask: “Are you OK?” and, if need be, gently encourage them to seek care and support.
  • Not up to the task: There are times when our idea of what we can do is not matched to our abilities or perhaps someone just hasn’t learned the correct way to complete a task. Simply sharing with them your experiences may be enough to help them become safe or you may have to go above to getting them the right training.

Safety chats

Once you’ve established a potential reason why a workmate isn’t being safe it’s time to approach them. Having a quiet, face-to-face chat is always the best course of action, no matter the situation. Follow these steps:

  • Always approach the person in a kind, gentle and friendly manner.
  • Emphasise that the reason you’re speaking with them to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace.
  • Briefly explain your concerns and gently suggest how they could employ safer tactics.

Advise your employer

If your workmate’s behaviour doesn’t change, this is the time to approach your supervisor or employer. Make sure you give them clear details on what has occurred, along with times and places. It will then be up to them to take a closer look at the situation and provide safety explanations.

In an emergency

If someone is behaving in a manner that could cause imminent death or serious injury, you must always step in and act straight away.

Contact Shine Lawyers

If you’ve been injured while working you may have a claim for workers' compensation. A qualified expert can help you to access the compensation you’re entitled to in order to get your life back on track. Let's right wrong, call us today for a free, no obligations chat.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 22, 2020.

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