Oct 12, 2015

Techniques for Supervisors to Address Safety Mistakes and Unsafe Behaviors

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We have all been told we have areas to improve while in the workplace. Feedback is one of the most important parts of improving work culture and employee performance. One of the most difficult tasks a supervisor must perform is pointing out a worker’s mistake or unsafe behavior. Nobody enjoys being told they’re doing something wrong. A supervisor can struggle with this responsibility and in many cases fails in their responsibilities which can lead to accidents and/or injuries. Below are several techniques that if practiced and mastered can make the task much easier. Here are some techniques for supervisors to address safety mistakes and unsafe behaviors to workers

Approach people with a positive demeanor

If you come across someone looking angry or have a look of consternation, the person will get defensive before you even say a word. If it’s not a serious infraction and the person is not a repeat offender, then the approach can be a bit different. Certainly anything that involves a person’s safety is a serious matter, but  remember that your goal is to change a behavior, not dish out punishment. If the people you speak with enjoy your visit – or at least don’t mind it – you’re more likely to accomplish that goal.

Don’t raise your voice

When you yell at someone, they’ll pay more attention to your volume than what you’re saying. Even if a serious infraction is involved, stay calm and keep your voice at a normal level. That way, what you say and the instructions you give are going to have a greater impact. Safety directors manage many incident investigations involving serious violations, and gaining information is much more productive when people are spoken to in a nicer tone.

Let them tell their story first

Even if the person is wrong, let them explain why they are violating a safety rule before you tell them to stop it. You can use what they said constructively to frame your response. Many people will come up with excuses for infractions, but it is important to allow a person to explain their position. The result is positive; they are more likely to listen because they felt as if their supervisor listened to them.

You also can ask them if you can do anything that will help them work safer next time. For example, if they are not using the correct type of ladder, it may be that enough ladders aren’t available or that they’re stored in a remote location. That’s a situation you may be able to change. The more information you obtain the better possibility the safety problem can be resolved.

Give plenty of praise

Most times when you come upon a work site, you’ll find more positive than negative. If you notice the positive behaviors and praise people often, discipline is easier to accept for people since the overall environment is favorable and positive for people.

In many cases, it is best to take a second to remove, re-engage, and stay positive!

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For more information, please take a look at our video about the AICC Workers Compensation Program, and contact us today to learn more about joining AWANE and become a part of our “power in numbers.”